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Revealed: ISI's Operation Andhra

Last updated on: February 01, 2006 23:31 IST
The recent arrest of a suspected Laskhar-e-Tayiba operative from Nalgonda in connection with the terrorist attack on the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore holds a lesson for the country: That Andhra Pradesh is fast becoming jihad's production factory.

But just how deep is the problem? And why do terror touts find easy prey in the south Indian state?

The concluding part of an investigation by Rediff India Abroad Managing Editor George Iype.

Don't miss Part 1: Jihad's new hotspot

Intelligence agents who have tracked the operations of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence say since the ISI has been involved in establishing Andhra Pradesh, and Hyderabad, the hub of its activities in south India, since the late 1980s.

According to security officials, the ISI has today a considerable base in and around Hyderabad.

'The thrust, subversive activities and secessionist plans of the ISI are of grave concern and great threat to the state's security,' said a document that the Intelligence Bureau's Andhra Pradesh wing prepared three years ago.

The ISI kingpin in Andhra Pradesh, Azam Ghauri, was killed in a police encounter in Jagityal town in Karimnagar district in April 2000.

The most active terrorist group recruiting young men from towns like Nalgonda is the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the ISI-aided urban warfare outfit operating mainly in the Kashmir valley.

The police say Lashkar leader Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed recruited the Warangal-born Ghauri in 1990. In messages to several Muslim fundamentalist organisations in the country, Sayeed had proclaimed that Lashkar's priorities were 'the liberation of Kashmir and Hyderabad.'

T V R Shenoy: Beware, the preachers of jihad

After being trained at the Lashkar headquarters in Pakistan and with the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, Ghauri returned to Andhra Pradesh in 1993 and conducted terrorist strikes across southern India. He subsequently floated the Indian Muslim Mohammadi Mujahideen, that claimed to be the Lashkar's sister outfit.

The police estimate that Ghauri recruited more than 200 youth from across Andhra Pradesh. "The masterminds of the Bangalore IISc attack could have been part of this group," says a police officer.

He says young men from towns like Nalgonda have been trained at various Lashkar camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. They then formed different terror groups and conducted some 60 attacks in Hyderabad and across Andhra Pradesh in recent years like:

  • The first ISI killing masterminded by Ghauri was in 1992, when G Krishna Prasad, an additional superintendent of police, was killed in Hyderabad.
  • In 1993, four ISI agents killed two Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists, Nandaraj Gaud and Pappaya Gaud, who had participated in the kar seva in Ayodhya that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, in December 1992.
  • In 1994, terror operatives led by Dr Jalees Ansari, a native of Mumbai, planted bombs inside the Madina Education Centre, on the Andhra Pradesh Express and the Secunderabad railway reservation complex.
  • In November 1999, terrorists killed Devender Sharma, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker.
  • In 2000, the terror outfits executed Mahavir Prasad, a Hyderabadi jeweller, who had sparked off a furore in 1997 when he ordered his staff to search a burkha-clad Muslim woman who he wrongly accused of shoplifting.
  • Three Nalgonda youth were allegedly involved in the sensational killing of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya in an Ahmedabad park in March 2003, in retaliation for the 2002 Gujarat riots.
  • The Deendar Anjuman module, which blew up places of worship in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, too had a Nalgonda link. Of the 40-odd accused, seven hailed from Nalgonda.

Intelligence agencies fear more IISc-type attacks

The police shot Ghauri dead in April 2000, but the men he trained are still at large.

In the early 1990s, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba also trained a man named Salauddin from Nalgonda and to groom youth from the area in subversive activities. The police is said to have either arrested or killed several youth who Salauddin had trained.

S A Khan, a teacher in Nalgonda, says several student organisations in the area have been established to foment trouble. "I always tell everyone let us not spread trouble, but instead work for the progress of Andhra Pradesh. Largely, people here are nice, through they are poor. A few dozen people have brought us a bad name," he says.

Khan says Nalgonda's biggest communal problem occurred in 1990, after riots in Hyderabad claimed over a hundred lives. The shilanyas programme then undertaken by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party turned Nalgonda into a beehive of communal activity.

'Andhra geared up to meet security challenges'

The police say the backwardness of districts like Nalgonda is a breeding ground for terrorists. "We have come across at least a dozen terrorist modules across Andhra Pradesh," says a police officer. "Of which, six are from Nalgonda."

George Iype