Prize catches

Indian security agencies have achieved a major success with the arrest of a Pakistani national, Ziaur Rahman, alias  Waqas, and three members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) a few days ago and the subsequent nabbing of Tehsin Akhtar, who is considered to be the IM’s de facto commander of its Indian operations.

The arrests may have averted one or more terrorist attacks as the operatives were thought to be planning attacks on political rallies during the election campaign. The arrest of Tehsin Akhtar is especially significant because he has been directing the operations of the terrorist group, which is responsible for many serious attacks in the country, after the capture of its previous leader, Yasin Bhatkal, last year. He is considered to be next in importance in the IM to the founder of the group, Riaz Bhatkal, who is in Pakistan.

Three major features, which are not new and unknown but need reiteration, stand out from the arrests. One is the continuing Pakistani inspiration for and connections with subversive terrorist activities in India. One of the arrested  persons is himself a Pakistani national who has been active behind many bomb blast cases in India. In spite of Pakistan’s denials, the planning and support for terrorism directed against India by official and non-official agencies in that country is very real.

The second aspect is that the IM has its activities spread in various parts of the country. The arrested persons were active in many states and were nabbed from different places. These and some other recent  arrests also show that the supporters and activists of terrorist groups come from different strata of society.  Indian security and intelligence agencies will have to be concerned that the catchment area of disaffected persons is widening.

The third point is that efficient intelligence gathering and active co-ordination among various security agencies can nip many terrorist plans in the bud. Joint action at various stages between the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Delhi police special cell and the Rajasthan police led to the latest arrests. That again underlines the need for a national counter-terrorism centre which is still only a proposal.

There may be continuing threats to elections as there are other active groups and sleeping cells which may be planning  to mount attacks when law enforcement agencies are busy with poll preparations. The security establishment has to exercise extra vigil in the coming weeks in all the states, especially in sensitive areas.

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