IN a joint operation, officials of intelligence agencies, Military Intelligence and the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) have arrested three Bangladeshi nationals who allegedly provided logistical and financial assistance to members of the Ansarulla Bangla Team or ABT, a banned outfit considered to be the “front organisation” of Al Qaeda. The three suspects — identified as Mohammed Habibur Rehma Habib alias Raj Jesub Mandal (31), Mohammed Ripen Haussain alias Rubel (25) and Hannan Anwar Hussain Khan alias Hannan Baburli Gazi (25) — were arrested by the state ATS on Friday night.
It is suspected that the three men were living in India illegally. The ATS also recovered identity documents including Aadhaar cards, PAN cards and voter’s IDs from the trio, which they had allegedly procured by submitting bogus documents in government offices. The three men were booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Passport Act, the Foreigners Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). A team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Sunil Darekar of ATS produced the trio before Session Judge R N Sardesai on Saturday. The court remanded them in ATS custody till March 29 for further investigation.
Earlier, five illegal Bangladeshi migrants had been arrested from Jui village in Raigad district by a team of ATS, Mumbai, on March 13. The arrested accused were also found in possession of Aadhaar and PAN cards obtained through illegal means. Further investigation led ATS officials to a 41-year-old man from Khargar in Navi Mumbai, who was arrested on Friday for allegedly helping illegal Bangladeshi migrants procure Aadhaar and PAN cards in India by submitting bogus documents.
The Pune unit of ATS then nabbed Mohammed Habib, who was working as a supervisor on a construction site. They also nabbed Rubel, who worked as a labourer on a construction site, and Hannan Khan, another labourer, from Madina Masjid area in Akurdi. Mohammed Habib and Rubel are natives of Khulna in Bangladesh, while Hannan Khan belongs to Shariyatpur district. According to the ATS, the trio had illegally entered India, procured Indian documents by submitting forged documents and had been illegally living in Pune for the last five years.
ATS officials told the court they were investigating which route the three Bangladeshis took to enter India, and how they obtained the Indian documents. They also told the court that primary investigation has revealed the trio had helped members of the banned outfit ABT, and details of “communication” between them and the outfit were being investigated. However, defence counsels Tosif Shaikh, Sajid Shah and Kumar Kalel argued that the three arrested Bangladeshis have no links with any terror outfit. The court then remanded the trio in police custody for 12 days.
Sources said investigators are zeroing in on a systematic network of bringing Bangladeshis illegally to India, helping them procure identification documents and employment, and later seeking their help to shelter terror suspects. Meanwhile, a wider probe is being conducted by different agencies to nab ABT members in India, who are suspected to be planning terror activities in south India.