The National Investigating Agency (NIA) on Thursday took over custody of five alleged members of the banned Jamiat-ul-Muajhideen Bangladesh (JMB) terror outfit in connection with the 2014 Burdwan blast.
The Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police had arrested six militants from Assam in the last week of September for allegedly conspiring to carry out blasts in the country, and also striking a deal with Bodo militants. Of the six, five were named in a chargesheet filed by NIA in the Burdwan case.
The NIA had recently moved a Kolkata court, pleading custody of the five accused on grounds that they needed to interrogate the accused, who might have crucial information about the JMB’s presence in Bengal or other parts of India. The court Thursday allowed the agency’s plea and remanded Moulana Yousuf, Jahidul Sheikh alias Zafar alias Jabirul, Mohammad Rafique, Shahidul alias Shamim and Abdul Kalam alias Kalim to its custody till October 27.
Of the five, Moulana Yusuf is allegedly the second-in-command of JMB’s West Bengal unit, and one of the main accused in the Burdwan blast. Sources said that the NIA had declared Rs 10 lakh as reward for Yusuf, who is said to be chief of the outfit’s Burdwan module. A resident of Mangalkot in Burdwan, Yusuf was the chief motivator for the JMB in West Bengal, said sources.
Yusuf and Kalam had been chargesheeted by the NIA in absentia while the role of the other three would be ascertained after their interrogation, agency sources said. On October 2, 2014, a blast had occurred in a house at Khagragarh in which a man identified as Sakil Gazi died on the spot, while a man named Sovan Mondal died in hospital.
Both were suspected of terror links. NIA later discovered that Mondal was actually Karim Sheikh, and had misled police about his identity. The agency later filed a chargesheet against 30 people in March last year. Some others were added in supplementary chargesheets in which the NIA alleged that the JMB members wanted to establish Sharia rule by overthrowing the democratically-elected Bangladesh government.
JMB’s activities in India primarily included recruitment, radicalisation and training of vulnerable youths in a systematic and organised manner and, in pursuance of the conspiracy, they had established organisational bases in certain districts like Nadia, Burdwan, Murshidabad and Birbhum as well as in Sahebganj district of Jharkhand, the NIA said.