Why Bihar is turning into a hub for terrorists

Interrogations of LeT operative Abdul Nayeen Sheikh has helped the National Investigation Agency make two arrests from the state.

 |  3-minute read |   07-02-2018
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A probe that began after the arrest of Abdul Nayeem Sheikh, a major Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror operative, from Charbagh bus stand in Lucknow on November 28, has raised a red flag about terrorists using Bihar, both as a hideout and a recruiting centre.

Sheikh is the man behind the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case in which a huge cache of arms and explosives to target political leaders were procured. Leads from Sheikh’s sustained interrogation have already helped the National Investigation Agency (NIA) make two vital arrests from Bihar’s Gopalganj district.

The latest arrests were on Thursday when the premier investigating agency picked a suspected operative of terrorist outfit LeT from Gopalganj district for his alleged involvement in creating a sleeper cell of the banned organisation in Bihar.

An NIA team from Delhi picked up one Mahfooz Alam from his house at Khajurbanni locality of Gopalganj, around 145km northwest of capital city Patna. Alam has been taken to Delhi for interrogation. Incidentally, this was NIA’s second arrest the same district in last two months after the agency picked one Bedar Bakht alias Dhannu Raja on December 1. 

Both Alam and Bakht have been found to have assisted Sheikh, and provided logistic, financial support and shelter to him. The two also collected funds for Sheikh through international money transfer services.

All these arrests have revealed an uncanny terror link to Gopalganj district, as Sheikh too had spent two years in this district from early 2015 to March 2017. These arrests have raised a flag about Bihar, as the intelligence agencies are said to be assessing what drew the terrorists to Gopalganj district.

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While he was in Gopalganj, Sheikh ran a private coaching institute in the Bihar town, where he indoctrinated youths and built sleeper cells of the banned terror outfit. Prior to making Bihar his base, Sheikh was arrested in West Bengal in 2007 while infiltrating into India from Bangladesh with two Pakistanis and one Kashmiri. He escaped from judicial custody in 2014 while being taken to Mumbai to the MCOCA court there.

Investigations have revealed that while government agencies frantically searched for him after his escape, Sheikh was relatively safe, teaching spoken English at his Gopalganj-based coaching institute called Smart Learner.

Sheikh, considered close to 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Abu Jindal, had obtained Aadhaar card, passport and PAN (Permanent Account Number) under a pseudonym of Suhail Khan alias Mohammad Ali.

Incidentally, Nayeem’s story bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Md Tauseef Khan, the 30- something mastermind of the July 2008 Ahmedabad blast, who was arrested from Bihar’s Gaya district in September last year. Tauseef too had taken shelter in Bihar’s Gaya district and was working as a school-teacher after triggering explosions in Ahmedabad, which killed 56 people and injured over 200.

Nayeem is also believed to have obtained fake certificates of secondary school to get his passport issued from the Patna regional passport office.

The NIA is also questioning a number of district-level officials to find out how Abdul Nayeem Sheikh, a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative, succeeded in getting a domicile certificate, driving license, matriculation certificate and passport issued in the assumed name of Suhail Khan.

Incidentally, Bihar has its old connections with terror outfits. Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and another operative, Abdul Karim Tunda, were arrested from the Raxaul border in East Champaran district.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: Why do uncles in India treat women who do housework like slaves?

Writer

Amitabh Srivastava Amitabh Srivastava

The writer is a Senior Associate Editor with India Today Magazine.

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