The Tamil Nadu Police and Andhra Pradeshs anti-terror unit Octopus arrested two men with alleged terror links,wanted in the bid to attack L K Advanis convoy at Madurai in Tamil Nadu in 2011,from a house in Puttur area of Chittor district on Saturday after a 10-hour-long operation.
Panna Isamail,38,and Bilal Malik,25,were arrested after a commando operation starting 4 am Saturday morning and lasting till 2 pm. Suspected to be Islamic fundamentalists with links to several terror outfits,they reportedly targeted leaders of Hindu organisations in Tamil Nadu.
They were allegedly involved in the murder of Tamil Nadu BJP general secretary V Ramesh on July 19 in Salem as well as the killing of Hindu Munnani Tamil Nadu state secretary N Vellaiyappan in Vellore on July 1,apart from the bid to attack Advanis convoy. The Tamil Nadu Police had announced a reward of Rs 20 lakh for information on them.
According to officials,Isamail and Malik,who are originally from Coimbatore,had been hiding in the Puttur house for the past six months. They pretended to be iron scrap merchants,and would allegedly venture into Tamil Nadu to conduct operations. Located 60 km from the famous temple town of Tirumala-Tirupati,Puttur is known for its bone-setting clinics.
Police claimed to have seized small weapons and explosives from the Puttur house and said the duo may have been planning to target the Brahmotsavam celebrations at the Tirumala-Tirupati temple starting next week.
T S Anbu,SP,Tamil Nadu CB-CID,who led the operation,said that when they tried to enter the house,they were attacked by Isamail and Malik and,in the confrontation,a constable named Lakshman was stabbed. He died later in a Chennai hospital.
The assault force was reportedly cautious due to the presence of a woman and three children in the house. Chittor SP K R Tata said they first drilled holes in the roof of the house and dropped stun grenades and tear gas shells. This forced them to move to the front room of the house,where a negotiation team talked to them. First a girl came out,then two other children and a woman. Isamail,who was injured,came out an hour later,followed by Malik. They were taken by the Tamil Nadu Police to Chennai, Tata said.
Tamil Nadu Additional DGP (Intelligence) Ashok Kumar said information about the Puttur hideout was given by one Fakhruddin,arrested in Chennai on Friday. Isamail and Malik are wanted in several cases in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Kumar said.