Two persons arrested from an area near the Indo-Bangladesh border in Murshidabad district of West Bengal are now being interrogated by the police and other investigating agencies for alleged terror links. Police sources in Murshidabad say that Ataur Rehman and his associate Sirazul Islam were picked by the Islampur police on the evening of July 24. They were picked up by a team of police from Daultabad in Murishidabad district after a tip off from local villagers. They have been booked under the Arms Act.
During the course of the interrogation, the two men have admitted that they have been supplying arms to three of the Manipur valley insurgent groups – the UNLF, KYKL and PREPAK. The two are believed to hail from Lilong in Thoubal district of Manipur.
Sources said that despite being picked up on the July 24, the two were interrogated by the police for several days before finally being charged and booked on July 29. The two were also involved in the drugs trade and would supply ganja from Manipur to other states.
Speaking to The Indian Express, SP Murshidabad, Mukesh Kumar said that they were “arrested under arms act and are being interrogated.” The two men, who are in late 30s, were staying in a rented accommodation in Daultabad. The house is owned by Kaji Tajumul Islam. According to the police, both men came in contact with Tajumul Islam in Coochbehar jail in 2014, where all three were serving their jail term. After being released, they tied up with Tajumul Islam in the supply and sale of ganja. While the police has arrested Rehman and Islam, Tajaur Islam is now absconding. Police sources say that they believe Tajaur Islam may have escaped to Manipur. They are trying to ascertain why the two were staying at Daulatbad.
Police sources said that the investigating agencies were looking in to possible links that the three men may have to the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) and whether they had any role to play in last year’s blast in Burdwan. Police are checking their background record and is trying to track their cross border links if any. Few sim cards and mobile phones have been seized from them.
According to a source in the police, the two suspects might have their links to different extremist groups in Manipur like The United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), and The People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK). The two suspects have revealed that they had come from Manipur to Guwahati via Plane in the mid of July, added the source. From there they took a bus to Silliguri and then reached Kolkata on a night service bus. They stayed at Dharmatalla for a night and then started off for Daultabad in Murshidabad. As per the sources, CID interrogated the two suspects but when The Indian Express contacted the CID DIG (Operations) Dilip Adak, he said, “CID has not taken the charge of the case.” Sources said that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been informed about the development and might interrogate the two suspects.
UNLF is incidentally one of the largest and most powerful insurgent groups in the north east and especially in Manipur. All three insurgent groups belong to the insurgency movement, that is the Hindu Meitei militancy. Unlike the Naga NSCN (IM), which has now signed a peace accord with the Modi Government, and the 20 odd Kuki groups which are under suspension of operation agreements with the Indian Government, none of the valley groups have entered an understanding with the Indian Government since they began their armed movement 60 years ago.
UNLF, the oldest, is the parent organisation from which KYKL, PREPAK and others such as KCP and PLA groups eventually emerged. In the ambush on June 4, 2015 on the 6 Dogra Rifles in paorlon village in Chandel district of manipur, which was masterminded by the Burma based NSCN (K) but carried out by K cadre members along with the KYKL. Seventeen soldiers had been killed in the attack which was at the time one of the biggest attacks on the Indian Army. Earlier this year on may 22, six soldiers including a junior officer of 29 Assam Rifles died in an attack suspected to have been carried out by a combined force of UNLF and PREPAK. This attack too took place in Chandel district.