Kerala

Jehadis convicted

Print edition : November 01, 2013

Thadiyantavide Naseer, one of the 13 jehadis sentenced to life-term. Photo: PTI

THERE had been several reports that a section of the youth in Kerala was being targeted by recruiters of anti-India terror organisations. Still, there was disbelief when it finally became known that four young men from the State had been killed while fighting Indian security forces at Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir in 2008.

The fifth anniversary of that encounter, in September this year, was marked by a verdict by an NIA (National Investigation Agency) Special Court in Kochi sentencing 13 people to life imprisonment in the case. Three of the 13, including Abdul Jabbar from Malappuram, who reportedly escaped from the security forces during the encounter and was later arrested in Kerala, will have to serve two consecutive life-terms, Special Court Judge S. Vijayakumar said in his order.

Describing it as an instance of religion being misused as a tool to incite violence and facilitate terrorism, the court said the provisions under which Abdul Jabbar had been found guilty could have invited the death sentence and added that he deserved no leniency. But the judge said he was refraining from ordering the extreme punishment as “no one is born a terrorist”” and courts everywhere were increasingly against the death penalty.

The “Kashmir recruitment case”, as it is known, was investigated initially by the Kerala Police soon after Mohammed Yasin, Thaikkandi Fayas, Abdul Hamid and Mohammed Faiz were killed in the encounters, but was later handed over to the NIA.

The NIA investigated it as “a case that involved recruitment of youth from Kerala by the banned terrorist organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), to wage jehad against the country”.

Prominently, among those who were found guilty was Thadiyantavide Naseer, the alleged LeT key operative and a known follower of Abdul Nasser Maudani (now in jail in Karnataka). Naseer had earlier been found guilty in the case of the twin bomb blasts at two bus stations in Kozhikode in 2006 and was an accused in the 2005 attack at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and several other cases. He was arrested from or near the India-Bangladesh border in 2009. The others who got double life-terms were Sarfaraz Nawaz, described by the NIA as “the key conspirator who had also provided finances and logistic support to the LeT network operating in Kerala under Thadiyantavide Naseer”, and Sabir P. Buhari of Kunnathunadu, Ernakulam, who was found “guilty of harbouring Jabbar in aid of terrorism”, among other things.

The NIA had probed the allegation of criminal conspiracy “with the intent to incite, facilitate and advocate terrorism and thereby wage war against the Government of India” and prepared charge sheets against 24 persons in the case. Among them were the four youth killed in Jammu and Kashmir and two others, including a Pakistani national, Wali alias Abu Rehan, who are absconding.

The agency found that the accused had conducted “motivational classes” at various places in Kerala and in Hyderabad “to prepare the recruits for waging jehad and provide training for carrying out armed action against the state”. The accused had also “funded the operations, provided fake documents, and facilitated the movement of the five youth from Kerala to Jammu and Kashmir.” It also found that the youth had not only been trained by the LeT in 2008 but had taken part in the armed action against the security forces in the Lolab forests of Kupwara.

Naseer and Sarfaraz Nawaz are already serving life sentences for their role in the Kozhikode blasts case. They are also undergoing trial in the Bangalore blasts case. The judge ruled that their life term in the case would begin after they serve their sentences in the Kozhikode case.

A State with a nearly 25 per cent Muslim population that had a long history of living in harmony with the rest of the population has thus come into the limelight as “a recruitment centre for jehadis, with some of their masters allegedly in Pakistan”.

R. Krishnakumar

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