BANGALORE: The footprints of Pakistan’s dreaded Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Karnataka can be traced at least to late 1991 and early 1992, according to the report of Justice Kedambadi Jagannath Shetty judicial commission.
In a separate chapter titled ‘organisations/elements responsible for disturbances (in Bhatkal)’, and under the heading ISI, the report states that “the evidences of all the witnesses who deposed before the commission on the issue of ISI have not been disputed. Hence it is established that ISI was secretly operating through its agents in Bhatkal, causing disturbances.”
Organiser is in possession of the copy of the 2000-pages report of the Justice Kedambady Jagannath Shetty Commission. Though the report was submitted to the State Government in 1996-97, it has not yet been placed on the floor of the state legislature.
In his deposition, the then assistant commissioner of central excise, Prasanna Kumar stated that “Pakistan’s ISI activities were very intense in Bhatkal. They wanted to create Kashmir like situation in Bhatkal and cause economic wreckage to the country.”
He further states, “According to me, the main cause for communal disturbances in Bhatkal is the ISI activities of Pakistan who want to establish economic base at Bhatkal by sending out all Hindus and also all the State and Central government offices. Otherwise there was perfect amity between Hindus and Muslims.” Adiga, counsel for Hindus stated that elements propped up by the ISI engage all the law enforcing agencies by creating disturbances. Secondly, they jam the communication system, switch off power supply and use the opportunity to land arms and ammunitions. The ISI activities during communal violence was funded by Pakistan’s Abdul Rehman. All the information pertaining to ISI activities were provided by LD Aurora, the then additional collector of Customs.” Subsequently, Mr Aurora was transferred from Karwar to Allahabad, where he was assassinated under mysterious circumstances and hence further study about the role and reach, clout and influence of the ISI in Bhatkal could not be probed, stated Adiga.
In his deposition, the then deputy commissioner and senior IAS officer, Pradeep Singh Karola stated that an ISI agent, Mohammed Farooq was arrested in East Champaran in Madhya Pradesh by the Uttar Pradesh Police and during the course of investigation he confessed that he stayed in Karwar and Bhatkal at the behest of ISI. “He has also confessed that he met on Guddu Makhar, a known anti-social element, at a masjid in Bhatkal,” Kharola stated.
Shankar, a senior official in the state intelligence, during his deposition stated that there were some Navayaths (a cash-rich group within Muslim community who are predominant in Bhatkal) who are ISI agents and Ibrahim Dawood’s agents and who are instigating communal violence. A careful study of Justice Shetty’s report confirms that the ISI had propped up numerous youth organisations in Bhatkal in order to foment trouble as well as transport RDX and weaponary to various parts of the country. The KJ Shetty commission takes note of the activities of two organisations, Lions team and Tigers team, and arrives at a conclusion that these two are shady in nature and character, after hearing the deposition made by police officers and government officials. “None of the deposition have been disputed or questioned,” Justice Shetty states in his report.
In his detailed deposition, Mr Kiran Dhandopanth Thakur, a senior journalist with Tarun Bharat stated, “As per the information I got from SP, Karwar and further ascertained from the central intelligence agencies, members of the Lions gang based in Bhatkal undertook the task of transporting RDX and other sophisticated weaponary from Bhatkal to Bombay and Gujarat. This was corrorobated by Gujarat ATS in 2002 after they gunned down Zorabuddin Sheikh, a notorious smuggler, who is also the frontman of Dawood Ibrahim in Gujarat. Sheikh was instrumental in storing RDX and AK-47 rifles in an abandoned well in his farm house, which was later used in 1993 Bombay serial blasts.
The then assistant commissioner of central excise, MV Prasanna Kumar stated, “I am aware of one Lions team in Bhatkal. They are hired killers and havala racketeers. They had also involved in communal violence.”