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The Rediff Special/George Iype
Is Hyderabad the next terror target?
January 02, 2006
Days after the terrorist attack on the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, investigating officials have stumbled upon a warning from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The warning is four years old.
In the wake of the terrorist attack on the Parliament in Delhi on December 13, 2001, the home ministry sent urgent vital statistics on the operations of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to four southern state governments.
The ministry had then warned that it is not just in Kashmir or New Delhi that the Lashkar -- or 'the army of faithful' -- had spread its terror tentacles.
Specifically, the ministry listed southern Indian cities and towns where Lashkar activists are operating.
They included Hyderabad, Warangal, Nalgonda and Mahboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh, Bangalore and Gulbarga in Karnataka, Malappuram and Palakkad in Kerala, and Chennai, Coimbatore and Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu.
Police officials say Lashkar has trained hundreds of Muslim youths in Pakistan and deployed them across India -- from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
According to the officials, Lashkar -- the military wing of Pakistani religious university Dawat-ul-Irshad -- is training hundreds of Muslim youths in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Founded by Professor Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Dawat-ul-Irshad has 500 offices
in Pakistan, 40 teachers and about 800 students, who are between eight and 20 years of age. They are taught to propagate Islam, embrace militancy and prepare for jihad.
The ministry warning further said Lashkar operatives would have sneaked into various parts of the country and that with the help of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, they were capable of organising bomb attacks at vital installations.
According to a senior Andhra Pradesh police officer, the home ministry had especially warned the Andhra government 'to take extreme precaution' because intelligence reports suggested that Lashkar could attack some of the Defence Research and Development Organisation's installations in Hyderabad.
"The police have been aware of the terrorist threats to cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad because they represent the booming, young, new India," K J Joseph, former director general of the Kerala police, told rediff.com
He said special wings of a number of terrorists groups have been clandestinely operating from cities like Hyderabad.
Police officials in Hyderabad say they apprehend that the next attack could be directed at the city.
"We have formed exclusive quads to break the terrorist links and networks in the city. Because we know Hyderabad is a target for terrorists," a senior police official in the city said.
Hyderabad needs to be worried because in a congregation of Lashkar members in Lahore two years ago, the outfit's chief Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed had proclaimed that liberating Hyderabad was one of the organisation's top priorities.
He also said Lashkar had opened a new unit in Hyderabad to ensure that the city reverts to 'Islamic culture and habits'.
Over the years, the Hyderabad police have been arresting a number of ISI agents who have been working for Lashkar. Police records say in the last four years alone, the Andhra Pradesh police arrested many hardcore Lashkar militants.
They included Mohammed Saleem Junaid, Mohammed Shafiq, Farooq Ahmed and 24 supporters of the terrorist outfit.
The police officer pointed out that in the last few years, the ISI through LashkarT has been spreading its wings in southern Indian states by making Hyderabad the hub of its activities.
The Andhra Pradesh police's special investigation department admits the ISI has set up what it calls a 'strategic base' in Hyderabad.
'ISI's thrust, subversive activities and secessionist plans are of grave concern and great threat to the state's security,' the police said in a confidential report on ISI activities in south India a few months ago.
According to officials, one reason why Hyderabad could be a target is that there are a number of vital defence installations in the city, especially those of the DRDO.
Sayeed had also recruited Warangal-born Azam Ghauri to the outfit a decade ago to spread terrorist activities to the southern states.
The police estimate that Ghauri alone recruited over 100 youths from Kashmir and Hyderabad to get trained in various Lashkar camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. They then formed different groups and have been carrying minor and major bomb attacks across the country.
Ghauri also formed the Indian Muslim Mohammadi Mujahideen, which he claimed was the Lashkar's sister outfit. Though the police shot Ghauri dead four years ago in Hyderabad, they admit that his Lashkar-trained supporters are at large in different parts of south India.
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