Arrested youth admits to having links with IS

Arrested youth admits to having links with IS

Asif Ahmed, the 19-year-old polytechnic student detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Durgapur in West Bengal last week, has admitted to links with the Islamic State (IS). 

The youth confessed to plans of a terror strike on a popular religious shrine—Tarakeswar in Bengal, officials claimed. Sources said Asif, who was living under an alias in a rented accommodation at Durgapur in Burdwan district, confessed that he and some others had planned an attack on the much-revered Shiva temple at Tarakeswar, in Hooghly district, around 60 Km from Kolkata. The temple has a steady inflow of pilgrims throughout the year, particularly on the evening of Shiva Ratri every year and on Mondays during the monsoon months.

Sources pointed out that NIA officials are trying to ascertain whether Asif and his accomplices had planned to strike on Shiva Ratri, scheduled for March 7. “We’re trying to find out if they had planned to strike that evening. An attack on Tarakeswar on Shiva Ratri could cause serious damage. Asif has provided us crucial information about the IS structure in Bengal,” the officer admitted.

Hailing from Dhanekhali in Hooghly, Asif is aware of the locality around the temple and could have helped fine-tune the plan. NIA officials found photographs of the temple on a cell phone seized from Asif’s home, along with hand-drawn maps of entry and exit points to the temple complex. Interestingly, Asif told his interrogators that he got in touch with Junud–ul-Khalifa-e-Hind, the Indian chapter of IS, in a bid to get back at his girlfriend and her family after they spurned him.

“Asif confessed to joining the IS in a fit of rage after his girlfriend refused to continue the relationship and her relatives threatened to harm him,” an officer said. Officials said even though Asif confessed to have joined the IS after hours of interrogation, he has not yet been arrested after officials realised that he is not a radical Islamist by nature. “We plan to put him through a deradicalisation programme,” the officer said.

Asif was picked up from a rented apartment near Durgapur where he lived under the alias Raja Das, along with a few other boys but the rest were found to be unaware of his plans. 

 

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