HuJI’s Master & Commander

Terror handlers used provocative visuals of Godhra riots and hate speeches by right-leaning Hindu activists to enlist and indoctrinate young and well-educated professionals into their network, the arrested terror suspects have revealed to the police.

They have told the police that “Islamaphobia” of Bollywood and film clippings that depict community members as villains too were used as material to brainwash them.

Sources in the police department said that a “commander” of the LeT and HuJI, Zakeer alias Ustad, supplied the material through Mohammed Akram, who was arrested in Bengaluru on Saturday, to the modules in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and other places. Zakeer had sent Akram with a laptop and a pen drive containing the material for indoctrination, around a week before the Eid festival.

The pen drive reportedly contains video clippings of Gujarat riots, Bollywood movies, Vishwa Hindu Parishad march-pasts and provocative speeches. “Zakeer told the suspects that he was a highly placed functionary of both the LeT and HuJI and that he enjoyed the commander rank. He had instigated Dr. Jaffar Iqbal and Jamadar to go to Pakistan through Iran a year before the modules were formed. He had also asked them to be part of LeT missions,’’ an official said. Jamadar told the police that they were taken to Godhavar village in Pakistan and also to Karachi.

The investigations have revealed that Zakeer in the initial days of forming the modules spoke to all the members in person. Shoaib and Jamadar told the police that Akram, the courier boy, was in charge of gathering crucial information about the targets and attacks. But the two pistols and several rounds of ammunition that have been seized by the police were not sent through Akram, but were reached to the suspects through some other contact, the arrested told the police.

Muslims being marginalised, say suspects

The 18 youth arrested so far – 13 in Karnataka, four in Maharashtra and one in Hyderabad by the Central Crime Branch of the city police, Maharashtra and AP police for the last one week for allegedly plotting the assassination of prominent leaders and politicians of the Bharatiya Janata Party and pro-BJP journalists at the alleged behest of a terrorist outfit in Saudi Arabia – have reportedly told the police that they were angry and concerned at alleged marginalisation of Muslims in the BJP-ruled Karnataka and their alleged plot to do away with some of the key members of the right wing factions was a reaction to that anger, said an official source.

The arrested youth in the age group of 22 and 28 years are educated, bright and devout Muslims, some of whom are professionally well placed, who were indoctrinated to believe that Muslims, especially young educated youth are not safe in Karnataka and the elimination of some top BJP leaders and journalists, would send the “right signal” to the government of the day, and create communal disturbance and administrative chaos.

“The accused have given the police the names of their handlers in Saudi Arabia. We are going to seek the help of the Interpol to verify the names given to us and their location. Some names of the masterminds are familiar,” added the officer.

The arrested youth with links to Hubli are allegedly part of a new terror module with strong affiliations to the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which was proscribed in 2001 by the Centre, said the officer. “It seems to be a wide network of indoctrinated youth. They have deliberately not given a name to it to keep the identity anonymous. Some of the accused are repentant that they were misguided by their handlers,” he added.

Many questions unanswered

The City Crime Branch police claim that two terror suspects were arrested while they riding a stolen motorbike raises questions over the transparency of police investigations.

There is a discrepancy, too, on the time of arrests mentioned in the police records, and the missing persons’ complaint filed by some Muslim organisations with the Basaveshwarnagar police station.
On September 1 morning, residents of Mubarak Mohalla and the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) filed the missing persons’ complaint, stating that some men from the area had been picked up by some unknown people, who later turned out to be CCB sleuths.

The police have stated in the FIR that the duo was riding a Hero Honda motorbike (with the registration number KA-27-E-1035) when they were arrested in Basaveshwarnagar. But the residents of JC Nagar claim that terror suspects Matiur Rehman Siddique, Reyaz Ahmed, Mohammed Yusuf Nalabund and Aijaz Ahmed Mirza were picked up from their house between 8.30 am and 9 am, contrary to police’s claim that the CCB team arrested them at 3.30 pm on August 29.

When Deccan Chronicle went tracing the motorbike’s registration number, it was traced to one Mr Datatre Mudri Marthanda Rao in Ranebennur town. The registration details reveal that it is a Bajaj M80 scooter bought in 1991. The police say the motorbike had fake number plates, but are not willing to give details of the actual registration number.

It’s possible that the suspects might have stolen the motorbike and changed the registration number, or were using a stolen bike bought from someone else.

A police officer revealed to Deccan Chronicle that the FIRs are doctored to suit the legal requirement. “We get anti-social elements for investigation from other states and countries. But for legal convenience, we show the arrests as being carried out in Bengaluru,” he said.

Arrested men try to mislead CCB police

The arrested terror suspects tried to mislead the CCB sleuths with false addresses. Officers of the state internal security wing , who are in the city to do a background check on the 11 suspects , could not locate the addresses given by Matiur Rehman Siddique and Mohd Yusuf Nalabund when they visited Old Hubli and the Kamaripeth areas on Monday. But they managed to locate the house of suspect-brothers Shoaib Ahmed Mirza and Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, in Koulpet.

After CCB sleuths returned to Bengaluru after a a thorough search of educational institutions and religious places, the internal security wing has taken over, collecting information from relatives and neighbours. “We will visit the workplaces and institutions associated with the suspects. We’ve spoken to friends and families of three of them and will gather information from the remaining families over the next two days,” internal security wing officer, S R Ganachari said.

The Hubli-Dharwad police questioned those associated with the Social Democratic Party of India and Popular Front of India on Monday. It spoke to PFI district president, Mohd Rafi Lashkar about two of his relatives, Sadiq Lashkare and Mehboom Bagalkot, arrested by the Bengaluru CCB police.

Security has been beefed up in the twin cities ahead of the Ganesha festival the suspects alleged that they were planning an attack during the festival.

We do not support terrorists, say SDPI, PFI

Responding to reports that several terror suspects arrested by the police were active members of their organisations, leaders of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Popular Front of India (PFI) claimed on Monday that communal propaganda was being carried out against them by some forces with an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Although terror suspect, Sadiq Lashkare is a cousin of PFI Dharwad district unit president, Mohmed Rafi Lashkare and an active member of the organisation, the leaders continued to maintain that they had nothing to do with forces out to disrupt the country's peace and harmony.

Mr Rafi Lashkar claimed his relatives, Sadiq Lashkare and Mehboom Bagalkot, arrested by Bengaluru CCB, were not involved in any anti-national activity.

“Ours is a social organisation working for poor Muslims. Although we have several supporters, we merely have 10 registered members. We cannot keep close watch on everyone who claims to be working for us But some communal forces and corrupt politicians are targeting us to disrupt our chances in the elections”, Mr Lashkar contended, adding that he had worked to strengthen the organisation in the city over the last four years by launching a cleanliness drive in its slums.

SDPI leader, Akram Hasan too asserted it was merely a political outfit spread across 23 states in the country, and had never joined hands with anti-national elements. “The SDPI has won around 70 local body elections in the country, but the Hubli police still refused to let us hold our party convention here a few months ago,” he added.

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