A new underbelly of Indian Mujahideen’s terror plots
SIMI-IM-Maoist nexus in Chhattisgarh
A terror-plot to unleash fidayeen (suicide) attack on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during his pre-Assembly election rally in Chhattisgarh in mid-November inadvertently exposed the hitherto unknown under-belly of the state capital, Raipur.
The consecutive arrests of activists of the banned outfit SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) linked to Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives, exposed an alarming security condition in Chhattisgarh, which otherwise is known as a communally peaceful state.
The arrests of SIMI members and busting of sleeper cell revealed that four alleged IM operatives suspected to be involved in the Bodh Gaya and Patna blasts on July 7 and October 27 respectively — Haidar Ali alias Abdullah, Numan Ansari, Taufeeq Ansari and Mojibullah were provided shelter in Raipur for over a fortnight immediately after the incident. They left Raipur on November 15, a day after Modi’s rally.
According to Chhattisgarh police IG (Raipur) GP Singh, the key SIMI member Umer Siddiqui, who used to run a coaching centre at Raja Talab in Raipur arranged a rented accommodation for the four terror suspects at Sanjay Nagar and these four fled before the police raided the house. “These IM operatives were in touch with Siddiqui for guidance,” he said. “After failing in Patna, the objective of IM was to kill Narendra Modi this time as he is considered by them as ‘anti-Islam’,” said Singh.
The sleeper cells of Naxalites — and now of IM — in Chhattisgarh, have become active over the years, giving shape to major terror plots and unleashing attacks.
Prior to Modi’s rally at Raipur on November 14, the sleeper cell consisting of SIMI members conducted a recee of the area, as the aim was to attack Modi during the rally.
“Despite preparations, the terrorists failed because at the last moment they couldn’t get the arms and explosives for which money was already paid by them to their source,” the IG said.
The arrest of another SIMI member Salim Ahmed, a property dealer from Sanjay Nagar in Raipur on December 13, revealed that he was involved in booking hotel rooms and raising funds for the alleged terrorists. Chhattisgarh police claim that apart from holding a special meeting, a training programme was organised by Siddiqui along with Salim near Barnawapara Sanctuary.
Out of the 15 arrested SIMI members from Chhattisgarh, the National Intelligence Agency has taken custody of two for further interrogation. The police said the arrested members worked as teachers, property brokers, mechanics, auto drivers, glass merchants, welders, junk dealers etc to give cover to their underground activities.
This ‘Rice bowl of India’, which has hardly ever seen any violent communal or ethnic riots, is gradually becoming a hotbed of Maoists and hide-out for Islamic terrorists. If intelligence reports and the disclosure made by arrested IM mastermind Yasin Bhatkal during course of his interrogation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are to be believed, a lethal cocktail is fermenting in the backyards of Chhattisgarh.
The possibility of ultra-Left extremists — the Maoists, the country’s biggest internal security threat — joining hands with the home grown terror organisation IM has lead to an immense concern in intelligence and investigative circles. And, according to intelligence sources, this deadly combo may take shape in Chhattisgarh, as the IM might use the network of the Maoists and procure arms and ammunition from them in exchange of handsome payments to the red cadre. A part of Chhattisgarh that falls on the ‘Red Corridor’, which is a strip in the eastern part of India passing through nine states managed by the banned CPI (Maoist) cadre – is a fertile ground for terrorist activities.
Chhattisgarh-based social economist Vivek Joglekar opines that the surge in SIMI activities or IM operatives in Chhattisgarh is not out of any discrimination or rage, but is due to crackdowns elsewhere. “The IM operatives found Chhattisgarh a safe haven to hide and continue with their activities elsewhere.”
The entire episode of arrests of SIMI members allegedly linked to IM at domestic level and indirectly with the al-Qaeda, and repeated Maoist attacks and arrests of its members in the cities — the active functioning and support of ‘sleeper cells’ in various districts of Chhattisgarh is evident. These sleeper cells might have been active much before the present arrests.
“Some six-seven years ago I saw a propaganda billboard of some ‘Hussaini Sena’ near Jai-Stambh Chowk in Raipur and questioned my friend about it, as it raised doubt in my mind about this faction. I was worried whether it was some kind of a separatist organisation. But, I didn’t get any answer then,” recalls a Delhi-based retired bureaucrat, who originally belonged to Madhya Pradesh cadre.
In an another important catch, the Raipur police on the basis of a tip-off arrested a 22-year old SIMI and IM operative, Dheeraj Sao, a native of Bihar on December 25. Sao, who has been running a roadside Dhaba at Transport Nagar area, was allegedly involved in raising funds for the banned outfits.
With the internal security reaching an alarming state in Chhattisgarh, it needs to be seen how the newly elected Raman Singh government tackles the growing menace, as the CM during his swearing-in ceremony said the Maoist problem would be tackled on a priority basis.
(The writer is a Delhi-based journalist, who writes on various issues related to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. He can be reached at [email protected])
Not only Sangh parivar organisations but also the men in the street and media have been pointing out that a nexus between CPM, Church and quarry mafia is working 24×7 to make sure that Madhav Gadgil report is not implemented. Recent hilly districts hartal was a clear indication of the direction CPM is moving to. The hartal was against the implementation of Madhav Gadgil reports aimed at protection of Western Ghats. Now, the CPM attack on the Hindu Aikyavedi (a Sangh associated organisation) worker while staging non-violent dharna in Kaiveli near Naripetta, Kozhikode district, vindicates the stand taken by RSS and BJP. Anoop (29), hospitalised after CPM bombing and stone pelting, succumbed to the injuries.
Hindu Aikyavedi Dharna was in protest against unauthorised quarries on the hills of Kaiveli Panchayat in Naripetta, about 70 kms from Kozhikkode. Local people say that recently some people are purchasing hilly lands at exorbitant prices. Such 130 acres of land has been purchased recently. A total of 1200 acres of land has been acquired by the vested interests so far. They say the Madhav Gadgil report has marked that area under zone 1. It is a fragile area. A slight landslide may cause a holocaust. Local people told Organiser that couple of people had died in a 1978 landslide. Gandgil report reads that granite mining should not be permitted before an environmental study by competent agency approves it. Hindu Aikyavedi workers allege that this norm was never practised here.
Around 30 houses are situated on the hills. Rock breaks are the perennial water resources. Reckless quarry activities will kill the water sources. Apart from this a 50 cents wide lake is seen on top of the hills. Elephants and migratory birds find it as a haven for their existence. The source of Mayyazhi river is somewhere in the rock breaks. The whole Vadakara town gets water from this river. It flows to Kannur district before it culminates in the sea.
Therefore, Sangh associated organisations had rightly said that uncontrolled granite mining would lead to several suicidal situations for the environment. Streams and river beginning from the rocks will soon be the things of the post. That is why they insisted on the implementation of Madhva Gadgil report for the sake of environmental protection. The Dharna was a Hindu Aikyavedi endeavour in this regard. Their demand was the implementation of Madhav Gadgil recommendations. Hindu Aikyavedi workers say that naturally it invited the wrath of CPM goons. People were not surprised in this context. Because, they were aware of the unholy alliance between CPM, the authorities and quarry owners.
BJP leader K Surendran alleged that CPM workers on the payroll of the quarry were behind the attack on the Sangh Parivar workers.