Last Saturday, when they saw their apartment block on TV and a man being led away, residents of Krishna Apartments on Poonamallee high road in Chennai were bewildered. They had no clue to what was happening in their complex. Much later, they found out that the man taken away, Syed Mohammed Bukhari, was being questioned in an alleged terror case.
“On Saturday, a few men in plainclothes, escorted by a police team, came at 5 am. There was a search operation and it went on for several hours. Later, we learnt that one of the men living in the house was being questioned as a terror suspect. Who knows what the truth is,” a resident said.
Bukhari, an office-bearer of the religious organisation Wahdat-e-Islami Hind, was detained for questioning by the National Investigation Agency. The agency arrested two others — Hassan Ali Yunusmaricar and Harish Mohammed, both from Nagapattinam — “based on incriminating facts revealed during searches and subsequent investigations”. They are already accused in a NIA case registered on July 9 against Ansarulla, an alleged terror outfit.
On Monday, two days after the search at Bukhari’s residence, 14 persons, deported from the UAE and apprehended by the NIA for suspected association with the arrested men, were flown from New Delhi to Chennai on a special flight.
The men were produced before an NIA court which granted their custody to the agency. Sources claimed that the men — they were said to be from Chennai, Tirunelveli, Theni, Nagapattinam and Ramanathapuram — were members of Wahdat-e-Islami Hind.
The Wahdat-e-Islami Hind, on its part, has maintained it is a religious organisation with no connection to radical thought. Established in 2009 in Chennai as a religious organisation, it had denied links to the banned SIMI.
While booking Bukhari’s associates, the NIA, in a statement, said they had been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act “based on credible information received that the accused persons, while being within and beyond India, had conspired and conducted consequent preparations to wage war against the Government of India…”.
The NIA claimed that it had “learnt that the accused persons and their associates had collected funds and made preparations to carry out terrorist attacks in India, with the intention of establishing Islamic rule in India”.
During the searches Saturday, the NIA claimed to have seized nine mobile phones,15 SIM cards, seven memory cards, three laptops, five hard disks, six pen drives, two tablets and three CDs/DVDs besides documents, including magazines, banners, notices, posters and books.
On Tuesday, when The Indian Express visited the office of the Wahdat-e-Islami Hind in George Town in Chennai, it was locked. On its door, on the second floor of the building, was a poster of an event organised by Wahdat-e-Islami Hind between November 22 and December 6 last year. The poster, with slogans in Tamil, referred to the Babri Masjid.
“People used to come to this office late in the evening and leave early morning. We never had any conversation with them,” said a group of workers at a nearby tailoring shop.
Officers of the Tamil Nadu police declined to comment on the case, saying they have not been kept in the loop.
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