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Bangladesh suspects got ‘character certificates’ from Bengal politicians

Security agencies investigating the arrest of 11 suspected militants this year at the Haridaspur border checkpost in Bongaon

Written by Subratanagchoudhury | Kolkata |
September 5, 2007 12:32:50 am

Security agencies investigating the arrest of 11 suspected militants this year at the Haridaspur border checkpost in Bongaon — about 100 km from here — have come up with shocking evidence of political patronage to such elements.

Suspected to be key operatives of terror networks, some of the men possess letters issued by local panchayat heads certifying them as bona fide “local residents” having “good moral character”. Some letters even urge security agencies to extend all help.

Take Sheikh Khalifatullah Khan, one of the 11 arrested who faces charges of having links with the Hizbul Mujahideen. His interrogation and scrutiny of records revealed that he had crossed over from Satkhira in Bangladesh into the border town in 1999. He has since married a local woman whose house is near Swarupnagar, right on the Indo-Bangla border.

Khalifatullah has reportedly confessed to carrying out at least three “operations” in Kashmir during his stay there from 2004 to 2007. He also stayed in Mumbai for two months prior to that, and claimed to have taken arms training in the Valley.

Upset at not being paid anything for the three “operations”, Khalifatullah returned to this border town to carry on as a “doctor” with a fake paramedic certificate. He set up a pharmacy shop in Gunrajpur, under Swarupnagar block near Basirhat.

When the BSF nabbed him in the third week of August, Khalifatullah tried to ward them off by producing a series of letters to prove his credentials. The letters, copies of which are with The Indian Express, indicate his reach among local grassroot-level politicians, cutting across political colours.

One letter is from a Bithari-Hakimpur gram panchayat functionary. It says: “Khalifatullah is personally known to me as a doctor/ physician of village Gunrajpur; he moves within the gram panchayat area at day and at night on professional work. Hence BSF personnel are requested to help him as he may move from village to village.”

A second letter was issued by the pradhan/ upo-pradhan of Banglani in May 2007, soon after he returned from Kashmir. It certifies that “Khalifatullah, son of Khairul Islan Kha of village Swarupnagar, post office Banglani is a permanent resident of the area. He is a citizen of India by birth/ domicile; he bears a good moral character. I wish him all success in life.”

Another letter issued by Rafiqul Islam, pradhan of Gobindapur village panchayat, also under Swarupnagar block close to the Indo-Bangladesh border certifies: “Khalifatullah is a permanent resident of the above address according to Swarupnagar gram panchayat residential committee. He is a physician (doctor). His chamber is at the village of Gunarajpur Bazar.”

Terror alert

NEW DELHI: The Centre has issued an advisory to all states to be alert and take precautions to foil possible militant strikes. The advisory, which assumes significance in view of the Hyderabad twin blasts, comes days before two important religious days: Janmashtami (September 4) and Ganesh Chaturthi (September 15).

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