Updated: September 27, 2016 4:19:45 am
KOLKATA Police said on Monday that their Special Task Force (STF) has arrested six wanted militants of the banned Islamic outfit, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), from Assam and different parts of West Bengal.
Those arrested include Abdul Hossain Faruk, who heads the JMB’s Bengal unit, and Moulana Yusuf, the second-in-command and main accused in the Burdwan blast of 2014, said police.
At least five of the six arrested were listed as wanted militants by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for their alleged role in the blast at Khagragarh in Burdwan on October 2, 2014. The blast is suspected to have taken place while bombs were being assembled inside a building.
Police identified the others arrested as Jahidul Sheikh alias Zaffar alias Jabirul; Mohammad Rafique alias Mohammed Rubel alias Pichchi; Shahidul alias Surya alias Shamim; and, Abdul Kalam alias Kalim. They were remanded in police custody until October 6, police said.
A senior Kolkata Police officer, who did not wish to be identified, described the arrests as a “big breakthrough in the Khagragarh blast case” and said that they may have helped prevent a possible terror attack in the state. “According to intelligence inputs, there was possibility of a terror attack in a crowded market place and we consider this (the arrests) a big achievement for Kolkata STF,” the officer told The Indian Express.
“We were keeping a close watch on the leaders of JMB and their movements in Bangladesh and West Bengal. After the Khagragarh blast, they left West Bengal and moved to the northeastern states and parts of south India. We were successful in nabbing them through physical and technical surveillance. They were using a secret network for communication, which was cracked,” said Vishal Garg, Joint Commissioner of Police.
Providing details of the operation, police sources said that Jahidul Sheikh was arrested from Assam’s Cachhar district on Saturday in a fake currency case. Sheikh’s interrogation led to the other arrests on Sunday and Monday, they added.
While Abdul Kalam was held at Cooch Behar railway station, where he had arrived from Assam, Moulana Yusuf and Shahidul were arrested from Natun Bazar in Basirhat area of North 24 Parganas bordering Bangladesh, said sources. Farooq and Rubel were picked up from a bus stand on Bagda road in Bangao on Monday morning.
Police said that the STF recovered forged identity documents, mobile phones, sim cards, foreign currency, wire cutters, batteries, detonators, travel guides in Bangla, books on chemical formulas and cameras from four of the arrested. Two kg of a white powder, which is yet to be identified, was recovered from Faruk, they said.
“We have not been able to ascertain the details of their plans but we believe they were planning subversive activities in the northeast and south Indian states,” said Garg.
As for those arrested, police sources said that Faruk, a resident of Jamalpur district in Bangladesh’s Mymensingh division, was in charge of funds for JMB’s Bengal unit. He was also on the wanted list of police in Bangladesh but was not named in the chargesheet for the Khagragarh blast case, they added.
Sources said that the NIA had declared Rs 10 lakh as reward for Yusuf, who is said to be the chief of the outfit’s Burdwan module. A resident of Mangalkot in Burdwan, police believe that Yusuf was the chief motivator for the JMB in West Bengal, said sources.
Named in the NIA’s Khagragarh chargesheet, sources said that Yusuf is considered to have been instrumental in the training and “placement’’ of JMB militants, and responsible for monitoring the activities that allegedly took place at a madrasa in Burdwan, leading to the blast.
Mohammad Rafique, with a reward of Rs 1 lakh, is suspected to have been responsible for helping militants enter Bengal and arranging new recruits, said sources. Rafique is believed to be an expert in making improvised explosive devices, they said.
Kalam, also an expert in making IEDs, hails from Barpeta in Assam and was overseeing the group’s movements in the northeast, said sources.
Jahidul Sheikh, from Bangladesh, had been staying in Assam and entered West Bengal without any valid documents, they said.
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