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Some Muzaffarnagar riot victims depose: Lashkar men, including arrested imams, came to recruit us

Rahul Gandhi had at a rally in Indore in October claimed that vested interests were behind the Muzaffarnagar riots.

New Delhi | Updated: January 8, 2014 2:28:21 pm
Muzaffarnagar riot victims in relief camps. (IE  Photo) Muzaffarnagar riot victims in relief camps. (IE Photo)

Two Haryana Imams arrested last month for their suspected links to Lashkar-e-Toiba, and another LeT operative, had allegedly visited relief camps of victims of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots and sought to recruit men to their module.
Some of the men who were allegedly approached refused to join hands with the Pakistan-based terror group and instead informed the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.
On Monday, they recorded their detailed statements under section 164 CrPC in the private chamber of a city magistrate at the Patiala House court. The sealed statements are now admissible as evidence in court.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had at a rally in Indore in October claimed that vested interests were behind the Muzaffarnagar riots and that an intelligence officer had told him that Pakistan’s ISI was trying to recruit disgruntled youths.
The statement had sparked a furore with the BJP, Muslim groups and even some victims living in the relief camps
strongly criticising Rahul for his claim.
Sources said the men who recorded their statements in court and have turned witnesses against the imams were living on the fringes of relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.
They are believed to have told investigators that the two imams from Mewat –  Hafeez Rashidi and Shahid – allegedly made numerous visits along with a senior LeT operative, currently on the run.
They allegedly tried to radicalise the victims by encouraging them to be loyal to their religion and join hands with the Lashkar operatives for a good cause. They were apparently promised a good lifestyle and money for their families, but the victims refused and chose to approach the police, sources said.
Sources said the victims had claimed that the operatives had also approached other displaced people living near the camps but those people refused to come forward and give a statement in court.
“Thousands of villagers in Muzaffarnagar have been displaced, their return has been politicised, people are living under extreme conditions. This is a perfect situation for these operatives to exploit, to induct vulnerable youth in their module. We are hopeful some more victims will come forward to give their statement,” a source said.
The two imams were arrested by the Special Cell from their houses in Choti Mewli, Mewat, and accused of being Lashkar members and plotting a terror attack on the capital.
The two, suspected to be linked to top Lashkar operative Javed Baluchi, allegedly told investigators that Baluchi had about eight months back tasked the module to recruit youths from Mewat and other vulnerable areas.
However, a few weeks after the Jat-Muslim riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar in September, they claimed they were ordered to visit the place and identify prospective field operatives.

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