Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Indian Mujahideen, SIMI terror cells in full swing

Can Indian governance quash them anytime?

Activists owing allegiance to Indian Mujahideen (IM) and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) are operating in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Godda, Jamtara, Pakur, Hazaribagh and Dhanbad, said director general of police G.S. Rath, confirming that sleeper cells indeed existed in the state.

Even though the National Investigation Agency (NIA) remained clueless about the whereabouts of suspected IM operative Manzer Imam, whose family is based in Ranchi’s Bariatu, Rath said several pockets in Jharkhand served as hideouts for the sleeper cells.

“Though there is no terror network, we have intelligence inputs that SIMI activists are operating out of various towns in the state,” the DGP told The Telegraph, adding that with the communication network being strengthened everyday, the job of terrorists had become easier. “But we are always alert,” he maintained.

Insisting that it was not a problem confronting Jharkhand alone, the DGP said it was an all India phenomena. “There are sleeper cells in Bihar too. They are not confined to one community or one place,” he said.

A sleeper cell is a terror cell whose members work undercover in an area. They remain dormant in a community until activated by a prearranged signal, to perform acts of espionage, sabotage or terrorism.

Claiming that the police had its own methodology to combat the threat, the DGP said: “We have the special branch and criminal investigation department to keep tabs on these subversive elements. There are people who are under our scanner.”

Ruling out any complacency on the part of the forces, Rath said though terrorists usually struck at places which ensured international headlines, vital industrial installations in the state like Bokaro Steel, Tata Steel and the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd unit at Jadugoda were under constant watch.

The NIA had arrested Ranchi resident Danish Riyaz on June 21 from Vadodara as he figured on the Intelligence Bureau’s wanted list. Riyaz, who worked in a Hyderabad-based software firm, is accused of providing shelter to the key accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts. Riyaz’s friend Imam is also considered an IM operative by investigating agencies.

The Telegraph had reported on June 16 how Kapali, a panchayat area in Chandil block of Seraikela-Kharsawan district — barely 10km from Jamshedpur — had quietly morphed into a logistics base for SIMI and IM.

In an interview to The Telegraph a few days ago, home secretary J.B. Tubid had said there were no terror networks in Jharkhand. “Riyaz or Imam do not conclude that terrorists have developed a network in the state,” he had said.

The DGP said the police were working in tandem with other agencies to flush out operatives from the state. “We have extended all cooperation to the NIA team, which was hunting for Imam recently,” he said.

Rath, however, refused to give the number of SIMI or IM operatives holed up in the state. “The number is immaterial as a single operative could carry out huge destruction,” Rath said.

A senior police officer, who worked as SP in various districts, revealed that there were “liberated zones” in parts of Jamshedpur, Giridih, Hazaribagh, Pakur and Jamtara, where even the police do not dare enter.

“The police do not have data about the number of activists present. We could not take action or enter to verify the credentials of people as that would have created a huge law and order problem,” the officer said.

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