AN ALLEGED Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) sympathiser was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) Thursday in the case of stabbing of a police constable in Yavatmal in protest against the beef ban.
Shoeb Ahmed Khan alias Pusad Shoeb alias Tariq Bhai (24) was arrested from Hingoli and is the second arrest in the case. Khan was out on bail after his arrest by Hyderabad police in October last year for allegedly being a member of the ‘electronic warfare technology group’ of the banned SIMI, police sources said. Officials claim the group was formed to facilitate launch of an Indian wing “on the lines of al-Qaeda”.
Khan is suspected of playing a role in radicalising Abdul Malik of Pusad village in Yavatmal, arrested on September 25 after he stabbed a constable outside a mosque. While stabbing him, Malik allegedly shouted: “Tumhari government beef ban karti hai, toh tum yeh lo (Your government bans beef, so you take this).” Malik allegedly stabbed two other constables who intervened, but was overpowered. He was arrested and charged with attempt to murder. The constable survived the attack. ATS took Malik into custody two days after his arrest.
Special Inspector General of Police, ATS, Niket Kaushik said, “Khan was arrested from his residence and remanded in police custody until November 2.”
Police sources said Khan and Malik may have been part of a larger group. Preliminary interrogation revealed the duo was to go to Afghanistan for arms training. Khan’s handler was identified as Mohthasim Billa by Hyderabad police. ATS sleuths are probing if Billa is their ‘handler’.
“Khan’s father works with the irrigation department and was posted in Pusad sometime ago. The two met at the local mosque. That is where they used to discuss ‘injustice done to the community’ and how they need to ‘secure rights of their community’. They started making plans as one of them was to flee to Afghanistan and acquire arms training,” a senior official said.
“After securing bail, Khan met Malik on numerous occasions. Other than going to Afghanistan, they started discussing modalities of a ‘lone wolf attack’ (someone who commits violent acts in support of a group). We suspect the September 25 incident is culmination of talks between the two,” the source said.
Police are probing Khan’s movements on September 25. “We are trying to ascertain where the two met last and from where Malik procured the weapon (knife),” said the source. However, the “target” was decided spontaneously by Malik, the source added. “Malik’s interrogation does not reveal the target was premeditated. The constable was on duty outside the mosque where Malik had gone to offer afternoon prayers (namaz). Since he was radicalised enough by Khan, when he saw the constable posted alone outside the mosque, he seized the opportunity and stabbed him repeatedly,” the source added.
“When Khan was arrested by Hyderabad police, he did not reveal anything about Malik. He had given a few names and those are under surveillance. We suspect Khan was to introduce Malik to his handler and wanted to send Malik for training in Afghanistan,” according to the source.