An open-ended scheme

Published : Jan 27, 2006 00:00 IST

A digital image of Abdul Rahman, prime suspect in the shootout at IISc Bangalore on December 30, is displayed by Bangalore Police Commissioner Ajaykumar Singh. - K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

A digital image of Abdul Rahman, prime suspect in the shootout at IISc Bangalore on December 30, is displayed by Bangalore Police Commissioner Ajaykumar Singh. - K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

HOLDING back his tears, 75-year-old Maulana Abdul Aleem Islahi recounted the saga in which his eldest son, Mujahid Saleem Azmi (23), was gunned down by a Gujarat Police squad right in front of the Andhra Pradesh State Police headquarters in Hyderabad over a year ago.

Islahi is among the scores of kin of Muslims who strayed to the path of jehadi violence in the State in an ideological reaction to the terror perpetrated by the state itself.

The State police have busted 24 ISI-backed operations and arrested 170 youth in specific cases since Islamic fundamentalism raised its head in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition.

During this time the militants were based mostly in Hyderabad and to some extent in Nalgonda. A suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, Abdul Rahman, was picked up by the Bangalore Police in Nalgonda in connection with the recent shootout at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

The police argue that organisations such as the Darsgah Jehad-o-Shahadat (DJS) and the Tahreek Tahfooz Shaer-e-Islam (TTSI) have been breeding centres for Islamic militancy. They claim that high-profile militants have usually been trained by both organsiations, the DJS in martial arts and TTSI for militant mentality.

The DJS and the TTSI have often protested the manner in which the police have targeted them. The TTSI acting president, Abul Karam Irfan, alleged that the police did not want the organisation to carry on its activities, which, he said, were based on Islamic teachings. He said the police harassed innocent youth after every violent incident. For example, they picked up a mechanic, Shakeel, branding him a TTSI activist, in connection with the recent suicide bombing at the Hyderabad Police Commissioner's Task Force. Irfan denied even seeing the youth's face. Shakeel is employed in the workshop of the TTSI founder-president Maulana Naseeruddin, who is lodged in the Sabarmati jail after he was booked in the Gujarat conspiracy case.

Muslim leaders describe the case as part of an "open-ended scheme" of the Gujarat Police to pick up people from Andhra Pradesh for riots in that State. They say that so far 18 persons have been arrested and 40 more are wanted.

The cases of the human bomb from Bangladesh, Mohtaseem Bilal, who blew himself up at the Commissioner's Task Force, and the alleged Hizbul Mujahideen activist, Mujeeb Ahmed, are being pursued by the police. It was Mujeeb Ahmed who set the tone for Islamic fundamentalist violence, by gunning down Additional Superintendent of Police Krishna Prasad in 1992. He and his brother, who was killed, allegedly procured an AK-47 rifle from the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Mujeeb Ahmed was jailed in the case but was granted remission of sentence by the State government for good conduct on the eve of Independence Day in 2004. Mujeeb Ahmed was said to be in touch with the Hizbul Mujahideen chief, Salahuddin, while he was serving his sentence in jail. He renewed his contacts with the cadre of the organisation after his release. The police booked a case against him under the Indian Telegraphic Act after recovering a satellite phone and compact discs containing seditious speeches.

In 1993, a doctor from Mumbai, Jalees Ansari, carried out five explosions in and around Hyderabad, marking a change in tactics by fundamentalists.

Azam Ghouri and Asghar Ali are others who have taken the jehadi movement forward. Asghar Ali was a petty criminal who came in contact with Mujeeb Ahmed in jail. On his release, Asghar Ali procured weapons and Research Department Explosives (RDX) from Kashmir with the help of contacts introduced to him by Mujeeb Ahmed.

The Indian Muslim Mohammedi Mujahideen (IMMM) and the Deendar Anjuman, Muslim sect worshipping the Hindu God Channabasaveswara and headquartered at Gadag in Karnataka, fuelled the movement in subsequent years. The Anjuman's chief, Zia-ul-Hasan, is said to have settled in Pakistan after migrating from Hyderabad. The sect allegedly aims to destroy the Indian economy through jehad. It carried out several explosions in the State, including in churches and mosques.

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