The idyllic tourist hotspot of Goa is becoming a nerve-centre for terror activities.
The investigations into the 2009 Margao blast, currently under the jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency, first indicated the existence of extremist right-wing groups in the state.
During their probe, NIA sleuths found that some members of the Sanathan Sanstha had planned and carried out the Margaon blast.
The Sanstha has strongly denied the allegations, stating that it could not be blamed if certain fringe elements with the same ideology had carried out the attack.
Now, intelligence agencies have warned that the Indian Mujahideen is also trying to set up a new base in Goa.
Four years ago, one Riazuddin Nasir had admitted to the Karnataka police that he had stolen several vehicles so that he could line them up at the popular Anjuna beach, plant bombs in them and trigger off a series of blasts. The police managed to foil the terror plot which, had it been executed, would have led to an unimaginable number of casualties.
The Goa police believe that a covert battle for supremacy is going on in Goa. For a terror outfit like the Indian Mujahideen, Goa provides many target locations for a terror strike due to the heavy presence of foreign tourists.
According to a report submitted to the home ministry by the Intelligence Bureau, the IM has set up ten modules across Goa and is recruiting members for them. These modules are off-shoots of the older, more organised modules in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Intelligence reports also noted that some members of the Karnataka module were sent to Goa to carry out a reconnaissance of some hotels which could later become targets for terror strikes.
The Indian Mujahideen’s presence in Goa was confirmed by the visit of top operative Yasin Bhatkal to Vasco in 2011. The details of the IM’s activities in Goa were provided by Mohammad Asif, an operative of outfit who has been arrested by the Karnataka police. An MBBS student from Hubli, Asif had spoken in great detail about the IM’s presence in Goa and its plans to target hotels in Margao and Fatorda.
He had added that the terror outfit wanted to target Israeli, American and British nationals.
A police official from Goa explained to rediff.com that while groups like the IM try to send across a strong message against the system by unleashing terror, there is also a covert tussle for religious supremacy against right-wing groups.
Intelligence agencies are keeping a watch on all events which deal with religious propaganda to ensure that this turf war does not escalate into something far worse that halts the flow of tourists to the state.
The Goa police has also revamped its intelligence unit to collect information on the underground activities of these groups.