|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Shahid Bilal alive, in Pakistan: Intelligence sources
Vicky Nanjappa in New Delhi | October 25, 2007 02:46 IST
Reports in early September that Shahid Bilal, who is alleged to have masterminded at least three bomb blasts in India, is dead are fictitious, India's intelligence Bureau has said.
Reports from Karachi said Bilal was gunned down by unidentified people late in September.
Bilal, alleged to have masterminded the the Samjautha Express bombing, Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid blasts, the Ajmer terror attacks and the Hyderabad twin blasts, was spotted last week at Sialkot, which is a border town in Pakistan, bureau officials claimed. The claim puts to rest speculation that the Harkat-ul-Jihadi commander was shot dead in Karachi.
The ISI had claimed Bilal was shot in an encounter following the twin blasts in Hyderabad. The IB says that of late the ISI has been using this ploy to mislead investigating agencies in India. Every time the pressure on Pakistan builds up to hand over a terrorist whom they are shielding, they come up with such stories, sources said.
According to IB reports, Bilal was last spotted in the first week of October at Sialkot. IB officials also say that he was in Karachi prior to him being spotted in Sialkot. They say that in the first week of October, he shifted base out of Karachi. The IB suspects that he had been asked to shift base by the ISI, as the international community and India in particular was gunning for his head. Moreover the entire focus had shifted to Karachi following the deadly blasts during a Benazir Bhutto [Images] rally.
Pakistan feels that there may be a major cleanup operation in Karachi and Bilal is the last man they want to lose as he is the only one capable of striking at will in India. Moreover, when the Indian government gave Pakistan a list of most wanted terrorists, Bilal's name had made it to the top of that list.
The IB says that he may have tried to cross over to Jammu and Kashmir [Images], but changed his plans following the Ludhiana blasts. Bilal's role is however not suspected in the Ludhiana blasts. The IB says that the modus operandi in the Ludhiana blasts does not relate to the one which is usually used by Bilal. Bilal specialises in using mobile phones and SIM cards to trigger off bombs.
The IB says it is very difficult to nab this man if he is across the border. The only way to go about it is to exert pressure on Pakistan and seek his extradition, the IB says.
Bilal, a resident of Hyderabad had fled India for Bangladesh around five years ago and joined the HuJI, an outfit of the LeT. He recruited several persons from Hyderabad to carry out attacks on India and Hyderabad in particular. The IB says that his major role was to liberate Hyderabad from government rule and bring back the rule of the Nizam.