Friday, Nov 28, 2014

Nepal denies link but porous border made it a haven for Tunda and Bhatkal

Written by Vijaitasingh | New Delhi/kathmandu | Posted: August 29, 2013 10:17 pm

With intelligence agencies securing the arrests of two key terror operatives in the past fortnight from areas near the Nepal border,there is renewed focus on the proliferation of several madrasas in the border area. Last year,during talks between Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) officials and their counterparts in Nepal,India had warned that these “institutions could be used by fundamentalist groups to forment trouble”.

Top Indian Mujahideen (IM) leader Yasin Bhatkal,who was reportedly arrested at the border in Raxaul,is said to have been a frequent visitor at one of these madrasas. Under the assumed identity of a Unani doctor,he would often spend time at the madrasa and give religious discourses,said an official.

Key Lashkar-e-Toiba operative Abdul Karim Tunda,who was arrested recently,is also known to have often visited the border madrasas,scouting for new talent.

According to security agencies,the porous border with Nepal has turned the neighbouring country into a “sub-base” for the IM after the 2008 Delhi serial blasts. The four top leaders — Riyaz Bhatkal,Iqbal Bhatkal,Mohsin Chowdhury and Amir Reza Khan — are reported to have fled to Nepal after the first IM module was busted in 2008 during the Batla House encounter. They are reported to have obtained Nepalese passports with the help of a travel agent. 

After obtaining their new identity papers,they reportedly went to Pakistan.

Investigating agencies are learnt to have identified the travel agent who got them the passports and alerted the Nepalese authorities.

Meanwhile,amid speculations that Bhatkal’s arrest was a “cross-country operation”,DIG and Nepal Police spokesperson Nabaraj Silwal said he was not arrested from Nepal’s territory. “Therefore,there is no question of him being handed over to the Indian authorities by us. Even in Tunda’s case,the Nepal Police were not involved,nor was he arrested from Nepal’s territory,” he said.

But in the past,authorities from both sides are known to have routinely handed over criminals wanted by the other country without going through the extradition process.

During the talks last year,SSB officials had warned their counterparts in Nepal that “some of the religious institutions in the region were reportedly getting financial aid from foreign institutions and there was every possibility that they could be used for formenting religious fundamentalism along Indo-Nepal border.”

A senior SSB officer said the mushrooming of these institutions “along the border areas from West Bengal to the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh,along the Nepal border,is not a new development. However it has picked up pace in the last decade.”

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