Militants and subversives bent on spreading terror in the country and destablising the law and order situation have sought recourse to an all-new gameplan. Now, terrorist organisations are honing on to fundamentalist student groups and to lend a religious disguise to their aims, have zeroed in on places of worship to execute their subversive activities.
Some facts that have come to light have the potential of sending tremors across the Establishment. Among the startling revelations of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants arrested by the Delhi Police earlier this month, was, that large consignments of explosives have been changing hands from the courtyards of popular mosques like the Jama Masjid, ostensibly to provide an air of sanctimony to the jehadi missions.
Also, the Delhi-headquartered Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) has been providing safehouses to militants and even helping them in spreading unrest in the country.
The revelations are corroborated by interrogation reports of 23 SIMI activists rounded up from Hydrabad, Kanpur, Jalgaon and Nagpur soon after the arrests of the HM militants.
[The Union Home Ministry is seriously considering a ban on the SIMI. Recently, Union Home Secretary Kamal Pande has gone on record on this issue.]
"What we have been fearing all along is now established. Activists of the SIMI are not only harbouring Hizbul militants, they have also turned couriers, ferrying arms and explosives. The connection indicate these militants have begun using Muslim students' outfits to further their bogus jehadi cause," says ACP Rajbir Singh of the Special Cell.
According to detailed interrogation reports with the Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau and made available to TheNewspaperToday, nearly 20-kg high-intensity RDX, along with four litres of nitrobenzene oil, six timers, a couple of remote controls, eight detonators and an equal number of shells were delivered inside the Jama Masjid.
The deliveries were made in February and March by the three of the arrested men, HM militants Ghulam Ahmad Wania (a 28-year-old resident of Baramulla in the Valley) and Ghulam Mohi-u-din Shah (26) and Kanpur-based SIMI activist Mumtaz Ahmed Maulana (28). Interestingly, Mohi-u-din Shah is a resident of north Delhi and had a transport business of his own.
All along we had intelligence that the Hizbul (Mujahideen) was trying to develop links with sympathisers outside Kashmir. Now we have results to show on the ground. This is a serious sign," says S.Ramakrishnan, Special Commissioner (Intelligence) with the Delhi Police.
The high-intensity explosives and devices were used to plant bombs in North Block and South Block. A lunchbox packed with explosives was kept in a scooter in the North Block (seat of the Union Finance and Home ministries among others) parking lot on April 10, 2001 and was to be detonated by remote control. However, alert securitymen spied upon the scooter and defused the bomb before any harm could be done.
After this foiled bid, the militants planned to attack South Block, the seat of the Prime Minister's Office and Defence Ministry, among others. On May 8, 2001, the militants took explosives-packed polythene bags on a bicycle and planted them in a dustbin inside the parking lot. This time the militants were successful in executing their evil design.
The interrogation reports further reveal that the Jama Masjid rendezvous wasn't the first of its kind. In December 1999, according to interrogation details, nearly 20-kg RDX smuggled in from Pakistan was delivered to SIMI activists, including Ahmed Maulana, inside the Jama Masjid in Aligarh. Four remote controls, 20 detonators, and seven timers were also delivered to SIMI.
The RDX was later used to plan at least eight attacks in Year 2000. (See Box: SIMI Connection )
The arrested militants disclosed they took precautions never to contact their commanders in Srinagar on telephone. They received instruction only on mobile phones and used pagers, the less popular but "safer" mode of communication, to contact Srinagar.
Pager messages were always coded. For instance, when atta (flour) was on its way from Kashmir, it usually meant that the explosives would arrive shortly. Remote controls and detonators were referred to as kitabs (books) or "dictionaries." A grenadethrower, according to the militants' code, was a torch, and "cell" was a grenade.
Every time a bomb was triggered off successfully, the pager message sent to the bosses read: "Exam theek thaak pass ho gaye hum log. (We have passed the examinations well)."
The militants also revealed during interrogation that funds required for the operations were transferred to accounts in banks across the country.
Apart from the HM's gameplan, the SIMI's insidious designs have been highlighted in a terse note sent by the Jalgaon Superintendent of Police (who arrested 10 of the 23 SIMI activists), to senior police officials in Mumbai and Delhi. "Investigations revealed that SIMI activists entered into a conspiracy to aid and abet in jehad and for planting of IEDs," read the note.
What also makes SIMI a dangerous outfit is made out from the interrogation details of Ahmad Maulana. He admitted that it was he and his fellow activists shot dead an Additional District Magistrate during the Kanpur riots in March 2001. At the time of the riots, senior Uttar Pradesh police officials were taken aback by the sudden firepower and militant attitude of the SIMI activists. The rioters fought pitched battles with the police in sensitive Beconganj and Chamanganj areas, lobbying with grenades and firing pistols at the lawkeepers.
Perhaps now the police officials know they have real reason to worry about.
This article was published in IndiaToday's TNT News. This worries me.