Who is Abdul Karim ‘Tunda’?

Abdul Karim turned to the neo-fundamentalist Ahl-e-Hadis sect for asnwers after the birth of the Ram Janambhoomi movement in 1984.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 10, 2017 3:51 pm
Abdul Karim Tunda. (Illustration: C R Sasikumar)

Alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba bomb expert Abdul Karim was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 1996 Sonipat blast case and fined Rs 1 lakh.

Who is Abdul Karim ‘Tunda’?

The 75-year-old bomb expert was born in 1941 and grew up in Pilkhuwa, Ghaziabad.

His father died when Abdul Karim was 11 years old, forcing him to drop out of a missionary-run school. Abdul Karim then found work as a metalworker, a cobbler, a carpenter, barber and bangle-maker. His work saw him travel extensively across northern India.

He married his first wife Zzrina Yusuf and fathered three children Imran, Rasheeda and Irfan.

When did he become radicalised?

Abdul Karim turned to the neo-fundamentalist Ahl-e-Hadis sect for asnwers after the birth of the Ram Janambhoomi movement in 1984. His search for answers to the question why Muslims in India seemed to be passive victims in the face of oppression had led him to Ahmedabad, where he began preaching Islam at a small seminary.

He got married again, to Mumtaz Rahman, after his first wife refused to accompany him, and fathered a fourth child, Shahid.

READ | Praveen Swami’s profile of Abdul Karim Tunda

Experiencing communal riots in 1985 had changed his worldview. Abdul Karim saw his relatives being burned alive by mobs who also targeted Muslim-run shops and a mosque. He claimed that police also joined the mob in attacking Muslims.

Weeks after the riots, Abdul Karim began studying verses of the Qur’an on jihad. He also started working with a local fireworks vendor to produce low-grade explosives.

The same year Ansari, along with few other men, set up an anti-riot vigilante group, the Tanzim Islahul Muslimeen, or Organisation for the Correction of Muslims.

How did he become associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba?

In 1993, Abdul Karim went to Pakistan to obtain training, after LeT contacted its Mumbai cell and invited them to send recruits.

Abdul Karim told police that he met Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed the same year. Saeed offered him an opportunity to train at a Lashkar-run camp in Afghanistan’s Kunar. He has, however, returned halfway before completing the training.

When did he move to Pakistan?

He moved to Pakistan in 1994. His relationship with Abdul Karim deteriorated eventually after a spat over the control of the Indian Jihad. Abdul Karim publicly alleged that Saeed siphoned off Rs 5 core funds raised for jihad.

He was also investigated by Pakistan’s ISI on suspicion of being an Indian agent.

Why is he known as Tunda?

Hakimji, Babaji, Abdul Quddus and Tunda: these are the names his associates use to refer to Abdul Karim.

In 1986, a few months after a court ordered the Babri Masjid management to allow Hindu worshippers inside the property, Abdul Karim lost his left hand while on a bomb.

From that day on, Abdul Karim came to be known as “Tunda”, the cripple.

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