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Assam vulnerable to Islamic terror groups

K Anurag in Guwahati | November 01, 2008 11:57 IST

Assam has been standing vulnerable in view of the growing presence of several Islamic militant groups and fundamentalist organisations. Thursday's serial bombings reflected the grave threat given that Assam Police pointed an accusing finger at jihadi groups for the blasts.

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Though nobody is ready to exonerate the banned United Liberation Front of Asom, the investigation is now more focused on Islamic militants groups and fundamentalist organisations having either bases or links in the state. The police are not ignoring the ULFA angle in the course of investigation into Thursday's blasts.

A security source said Islamic fundamentalist groups upsurge would pose a much bigger challenge to the state than the three-decade-old insurgency spearheaded by the banned ULFA. Senior security officials in Assam huddled for a late night meeting on the day of serial blasts to evolve a strategy to counter the threat from fundamentalist outfits.

View: Everyone is clueless on Assam

Assam government recently informed the state assembly that two Islamic militant groups, including the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, were particularly active across Assam, and that a number of persons belonging to different such outfits were also lodged in different jails of the state.

Some militant organisations that are active in the state include the Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam, Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam, Islamic Liberation Army of Assam, United Reformation Protest of Assam and People's United Liberation Front.

The army, engaged in counter-insurgency operation in Assam, has been warning the state government about the ISI links of Islamic militants active in the state. The army recently informed the state government that the Muslim United Liberation Tiger of Assam was becoming more active in Lower Assam areas given that it had recovered a cache of explosives, including IEDs from the outfit.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani [Images], who visited Assam on Friday, alleged that the Students' Islamic Movement of India had links with the Assam-based MULTA and Muslim United Students Association. He called upon the Government of India to clear the matter before the people in the interests of national security.

It was in Guwahati where the first arrest of any 'ISI operative' was ever made in the country. The Assam Police had in August 1999 arrested four terrorists in the heart of Guwahati, two of whom were Pakistani nationals -- Md Fasiullah Hussaini alias Hamid Mahmood alias Khalid Mehmood of Hyderabad (Sind) and Md Javed Waqar alias Md Mustafa  Abdul Rahman Danish of Karachi. Both of them were alleged to be top activists of the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.

Subsequently, Assam Police had arrested 13 more persons, all local youths. One of them was one Nurul Amin, who was convicted for life by a Delhi [Images] Court in connection with the Connaught Place abduction of two British nationals carried out by Harkat-ul-Ansar headed by Masood Ajhar. But interestingly, Nurul had escaped from custody while being taken by the police to a hospital for health check up in October 2006.

However, nine years after they were arrested, four persons, including Fasiullah Hussaini and Md Javed Waqar, were released by a session's court in Guwahati on June 11 due to lack of 'solid evidence.'

Also was released along with these two Pakistanis nationals was one Billal Miyan, who was a Bangladeshi national arrested in West Bengal. All of them were acquitted of their charges filed under sections 121, 122 and 153 (A) of the IPC, which included allegations of waging war against India, criminal conspiracy and sedition etc.

Their acquittal by the court of law triggered hue and cry in the state with All Assam Students Union accusing the Congress-led government in the state of making the case soft against the 'ISI operatives'.

Meanwhile, a senior police official said that as external force inimical to India would not be able to carry out such devastating serial explosions sans logistic help and support from local groups.

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