Has Nitish's Bihar become a breeding ground for terrorists?

Of late, there is a growing clamour that Bihar, in the last few years, has become a safe haven for terrorists. This perception is not wide off the mark.

Sample this: January 2013: Danish Ansari, suspected to be a close aide of Yasin Bhatkal, one of the founders of Indian Mujahideen (IM), is arrested at Darbhanga by the sleuths of National Investigation Agency (NIA).

October 2012: Fashi Mehmood, an engineer from Darbhanga, is arrested from Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi after his extradition from Saudi Arabia, for his links with IM.

May 2012: Mohd Kafil Akhtar is arrested by Bangalore police from this district for his alleged involvement in Chinnaswamy Stadium blast case.

February 2012: The anti-terrorist squad (ATS) team from Maharashtra raid Shivdhara in Darbhanga and arrest a cycle mechanic Mohd Kafil who is said to be involved in the Mumbai blast case.  

 Three things were common in all these arrests. All the accused were nabbed from Darbhanga, had a extremely poor family background and their kin were mostly illiterate.  

In the latest incident of arrest, Danish was the sole bread-earner in a family of eight, and used to give tuitions to students up to Class V. “Except for once, when he went to Delhi last year for 15 days, Danish has never ventured out of Darbhanga,” Mohammad Jakir Ansari, father of Danish, said. The 60-year-old distraught father, who is a small time footwear seller, insisted that his son was innocent and there was some misunderstanding and miscommunication which has led to his son’s arrest.

But the sleuths of NIA, who swooped down to the sleepy hamlet Chakjohra in Bihar’s Darbhanga district and waited for 48 hours before apprehending Danish, said that he was the right hand man of IM mastermind Yasin Bhatkal and was allegedly involved in blasts in Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. “We have concrete information that when Bhatkal came to Darbhanga, he remained in touch with Danish,” an official of the NIA was quoted to have told the villagers before arrest.

Fugitive mastermind

Who is Yasin Bhatkal? The fugitive mastermind behind the Mumbai blasts Yasin Bhatkal, who is said to be evading arrest even though his associates have been apprehended, is believed to have stayed in Darbhanga district in the guise of an ayurvedic doctor.

The terror module, who practised as a physician, was known as Dr Imran. Intelligence sources said Yasin had many aliases. He was called Yasin Ahmad Siddibappa as well as Shahrukh, besides two other names -- Imran and Asif.
Bhatkal was an expert in configuring improvised explosive devices (IED). He is said to have ‘brainwashed’ students and lured them into terror activities. Almost all his recruits, who operated as Pak-trained modules, are believed to be involved in Delhi’s Jama Masjid shootout, Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy stadium blasts and Pune German bakery case. “And most of them are from Bihar, with whom he came in contact while they (the misguided youths) were pursuing their studies at different engineering colleges,” the Intelligence official added.

“Bhatkal befriended them and convinced them to join terror activities. In 2011, the mastermind of Mumbai train blasts (Bhatkal) married the daughter of Md Irshad Khan, who stayed in Chennai, but is originally from Samastipur. Irshad was arrested by Delhi police in November 2011 for giving shelter to Bhatkal,” the source added.
In May 2012, the Karnataka police raided Barh Samaila village in Darbhanga and apprehended Kafil Akhtar, who was said to be one of the suspects in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast case. But the arrest was mired in controversy as the cops from down South did not inform the Bihar police before apprehending Kafil. “Whether the arrested suspect is guilty or innocent has to be decided by the court, but this is a brazen violation of the rule of the law where the cops of a different State swooped down here and arrested a suspect without informing the Bihar police,” Nitish wrote to his Karnataka counterpart, registering his displeasure.  
But then, this is not the first time that blast suspects have been nabbed from North Bihar districts. Five years back, the Anti-terrorist squad (ATS) flew down to Patna in a special IAF aircraft IL-76 and arrested two militants - Kamal Ahmad Ansari and Khalid Sheikh - from a remote village in Madhubani district of Bihar in July 2006. The two Pakistani modules were wanted for their involvement in 7/11 Mumbai train serial blasts.

While Ansari was nabbed from Basopatti, Khalid was arrested from Malmal village in Madhubani. The terrorists, while confessing their role in serial blasts, had admitted before the police that they crossed Wagah border in 2004 on a genuine passport and received an in-depth training at PoK.

In 2009, another Madhubani-born terrorist Mohd Omar Madani was arrested by Delhi police. Lashkar-e-Taiba Nepal chief Madani was assigned the task of recruiting young men from Bihar for insurgency, after proper training in handling arms and explosives.
A year later, an Afghan militant Mirza Khan was arrested from Purnia railway station in 2010. The Taliban told his interrogators that he used Bihar districts like Purnia and Araria as a safe passage to Pakistan via Bangladesh. A chargesheet was filed against Mirza after his links with Al-Qaida was established.

Little wonder, the central agencies feel that Bihar, which shares porous border with Nepal and Bangladesh, has become a breeding ground for wannabe terrorists.

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