The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Sunday took in its custody an associate of a 24-year-old man who was arrested two days ago for allegedly having been ordered by terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to eliminate former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
Sharma was suspended from the party following her remarks on Prophet Muhammad.
On Friday, the agency had arrested Mohammad Nadeem from Saharanpur, claiming that he was in contact with several terror groups, including the JeM, and was planning to attack government buildings and police premises. Nadeem confessed that he was given the task to eliminate Nupur Sharma, the ATS claimed.
On the basis of information shared by Nadeem during the preliminary inquiry, the police conducted raid at 19-year-old Habibul Islam, alias Saifullah’s residence in Fatehpur district. Then he was taken to the agency’s Kanpur office for questioning.
“During his questioning, Habibul confessed that he knows Nadeem and that both of them are linked with the JeM network,” said Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar.
The ATS claimed to have recovered a cellphone, a SIM card and a knife from Habibul’s possession.
Natives of Motihari in Bihar, his family has been staying on rent in Fatehpur for the last two decades. Habibul has three brothers and his father Jafrul Islam is a teacher at a madrasa.
“During the questioning, it came to light that Habibul had prepared virtual IDs of around 50 persons, including Nadeem’s, besides people associated with the terror groups. Nadeem was in contact with his handlers in Pakistan and Afghanistan through different social media platforms, including Telegram, WhatsApp and Facebook,” added the officer. The police said Habibul had joined several groups with virtual IDs. He used to upload videos in which people are persuaded to join jihad. “Habibul told us that his Pakistan handlers were asking him to visit the neighbouring country to attend jihadi training sessions so as to start such activities after returning to India,” the ATS said in a press release.
The agency has decided to seek Habibul’s custodial remand to zero in on his links in India and abroad. This is the third arrest in the last one week. On August 9, the ATS had arrested one Sabahuddin Azmi (25) for allegedly planning to carry out a blast on Independence Day.
Habibul’s father told mediapersons that he got information about the arrest of his son when police officials called them from Lucknow on Sunday.
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“Habibul, who was hafiz, was doing a course on alima (Islamic studies). After Eid, he left the education in the middle and returned home. When I got annoyed with him for leaving education in the middle, Habibul took admission in a madarsa in Pratapgarh district.”
Habibul was staying at the madarsa for a long time and used to visit his house during festivals, he added. “He used to stay at the madarsa throughout the year and would come home during holidays,” said the father, adding that the police must have acted against him on the basis of evidence.
Habibul also studied at a madarsa in Etawah.
Sources said when Habibula left his education in the middle, his father drove him out of the house.