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Inside terror's dark soul: Modi's murder, Kerala netas, Hindu helpers

February 28, 2014 14:35 IST

Inside terror's dark soul

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Vicky Nanjappa

The charge-sheet against Yasin Bhatkal reveals many shocking facts about the dark deeds of the Indian Mujahideen, says Vicky Nanjappa

Follow the Naxal style of functioning.

Merely killing civilians is not enough to wake up the government.

It is time to carry out major political assassinations.

These are some of the damning statements made by Indian Mujahideen chief Yasin Bhatkal during online chats or in e-mails.

The elaborate charge-sheet compiled by the National Investigation Agency against Yasin and his associates uncovers this, and many more, shocking facts about the dark deeds of the IM.

Here are some of them:

Following the heinous Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh in May 2013, in which several senior state Congress leaders were killed, Bhatkal received a message from Pakistan, stating, “It is time to target the big leaders and policemen in India”.

The message, from Indian Mujahideen co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal, ominously added, “If you want the establishment to take notice, then plan big and attack bigger."

“There is no point in continuously striking at civilians and killing a handful of people. These attacks have become common and the government has clearly not taken much notice,” he added.

So, Yasin and his associate Assadullah Akthar decided to plan a bigger terror strike -- a fidayeen attack on politicians and police personnel, with Akthar in the lead.

But when it set about trying to procure arms and ammunition for the strike, the IM fell short on several accounts.

The organisation got no help from its associates in Pakistan and it did not have terrorists trained enough to carry out a suicide attack.

The terror organisation finally decided to target a political rally or a police station to send a strong and terrifying message against the establishment.

Later, the IM decided to target major sites which hold a symbolic value, and the terror strikes on Bodh Gaya and Patna followed.

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Image: Yasin Bhatkal
Photographs: Reuters

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Vicky Nanjappa

Yasin was actively involved in the planning the Bodh Gaya blasts, but he was arrested by the time the IM could actually carry out the attack in Patna.

The serial blasts in Patna shook Gandhi Maidan -- the site of a scheduled rally by Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi -- hours before the event.

Before intelligence operatives arrested Yasin Bhatkal in August 2013, the IM chief wanted to go all out for a political assassination, and the outfit had decided to zero in on Modi.

The Patna terror strike was planned by IM operative Tehsin Akthar and his associates.

The group had initially devised a plan to assassinate Modi outside his hotel in Patna but the Z-category security around the Gujarat chief minister hampered their plans.

Finally, Akthar and his fellow terrorists decided to go ahead and plant the bombs in and around the rally site.

Meanwhile, an input by the Central Intelligence Agency, shared with the Intelligence Bureau and Delhi police, suggests that Akthar is currently hiding either in Bihar or Kerala.

Tehsin, a terrorist trained in the Darabhanga module of the Indian Mujahideen, has usually operated from Samastipur in Bihar.

In the last two months, Tehsin has been shuffling between Kerala and Bihar, the two strongholds of the Indian Mujahideen.

CIA operatives have spotted Tehsin in southern Kerala and eastern Bihar, regions which provide safe refuge and political patronage to IM terrorists.

The terror operatives find a secure place to stay with the help of local touts and are even bold enough to meet political leaders openly, say CIA operatives.

The local unit of the IB willingly looks the other way on such occasions, fears the American spy agency.

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Image: At the Patna blast site
Photographs: Reuters

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Inside terror's dark soul

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Vicky Nanjappa

The NIA, which has been tracking Tehsin’s movement, believes that he took shelter in Samastipur right after the Patna blasts. He soon shifted to Ranchi and later travelled to Kerala.

Indian security agencies are wary about launching a manhunt in Kerala, which has a sizeable Muslim population, as they are invariably accused of pursuing a biased agenda.

These agencies face the same handicap in parts of Bihar and Tehsin has taken full advantage of the situation.

Yasin’s associate has travelled between Kerala and Bihar at least four times in the past three months, states an input by the CIA, adding that he was in touch with some local politicians in Kerala who found a safe hideout.

Both Delhi police and the Intelligence Bureau are leaving no stone unturned to nab Tehsin.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the Patna serial blasts, orchestrated by the Indian Mujahideen, has revealed an astonishing fact.

Some of the IM operatives who helped plan the terror strike were Gopal Kumar Goyal, Vikas Kumar, Pawan Kumar, Ganesh Kumar and Anil Pandey.

Members of the majority community are not traditionally associated with the Indian Mujahideen.

None of them were part of the inner coterie of the terror outfit but they helped IM operatives procure money and ammunition, say NIA sources.

The roles played by Goyal, Kumar, Pawan Kumar and Ganesh Kumar are being probed over a hawala transaction while Pandey is being investigated in connection to an arms deal.

Pandey, a member of the Bengali Pahadi colony in Uttar Pradesh, allegedly enjoys close links with Naxal outfits.

The NIA believes that Pandey was in touch with IM operatives Mohammad Ahmad and Fakruddin, who procured a sizable amount of ammonium nitrate from him to assemble the bombs that were eventually used in the Patna blasts.

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Image: The top leaders of the Indian Mujahideen


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Vicky Nanjappa

To help the IM with its plan to assassinate Modi near his hotel in Patna, Pandey had supplied a cache of pistols. Two IM operatives had met Pandey a few days before the Patna serial blasts, in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, to collect the requisite ammunition.

Incidentally, Mirzapur is a favourite haunt for IM operatives from the Azamgarh module, who often congregate here to procure explosive material.

Pandey, who has been under the NIA’s custody, has claimed that he only supplied arms to the terror operatives and had no idea which outfit they belonged to.

But the probe agency is not really buying his story, as they believe that Pandey runs a well-oiled arms racket and helps other terror outfits and insurgent groups, including the Naxals.

The NIA is still trying to figure out the exact role played by Gopal Kumar Goyal, Vikas Kumar, Pawan Kumar and Ganesh Kumar, who reportedly helped fund the operation via hawala money.

These men, who have been running a hawala racket from Bihar and Jharkhand for the last eight years, were arrested from Lakhasarai.

They often operated as ‘carriers’ who shifted the ill-gotten wealth to safe locations and used it to fund terror operations, say NIA sources.

While explaining why members of the Hindu community would help out a fundamentalist organisation like the IM, NIA investigators told Rediff.com, “Ideology is not a factor here. Each one of them has been working for money, just like any other criminal. Such cases have cropped up in the past as well”.

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