Why Bihar has become a deadline for terrorist activity

Zafar Abbas, a 30-something cybercriminal turned terrorist operative in Bihar’s Gopalganj district, did something that seemed straight out of a spy thriller when a joint team from the National Agency of investigation (NIA) and the district police reached his village of Pathra to arrest him. him on December 9.

Abbas dove into the village pond and hid underwater for almost 90 minutes. Using a hose to breathe and poking his head out intermittently, he managed to escape the cops until he was out of luck when someone spotted him in the water. The police team eventually had to jump into the pond to retrieve it. Later, the NIA took him to Delhi.

Abbas was worth it, a Gopalganj police source said. Having started out as a cybercriminal first, he became a terrorist agent while serving a sentence in Tihar Prison in Delhi. He was known for forgery, bank fraud and assault long before he became an infantryman for a terrorist group based in Pakistan. The NIA is believed to have gathered electronic evidence that Abbas raised funds overseas and then transferred them through surrogate bank accounts to facilitate terrorist activity in India.

The NIA, according to law enforcement sources, has detected traces of money suggesting that the youth of Gopalganj was involved in massive deals, reaching several million dollars, to aid terrorist operatives, including those active in Jammu and Kashmir. .

While Abbas was an example of Bihar serving as a breeding ground for local terror, the verdict of the NIA Special Court in Patna on November 1 sentenced four inmates to death and two to life imprisonment for their roles in the bombings. October 2013 bombing in Patna, a reminder of how the state has also been a target area for terrorists.

The explosions at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna had killed six people during a rally of Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat and was being screened as the PM candidate of the BJP for the 2014 elections in Lok Sabha.

The second crucial verdict was delivered on December 17, when a special NIA court in Patna sentenced three of the nine terrorists from Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) to life, while five others were sentenced to 10 years. imprisonment for their involvement. in the explosion of an IED at Bodh Gaya in 2018. The case concerns the explosion of an IED at the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi temple on January 19, 2018, while the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as well as several Buddhist pilgrims , were camping in the city to participate in the one-month Kalachakra puja.

Incidentally, this was the second IED explosion inside the Mahabodhi temple. The first incident occurred on July 7, 2013, in which the convicts – all Indian members of the Mujahedin – planted 13 IEDs inside the temple. Of these, nine had exploded.

In a separate development, on December 23, the NIA filed a lawsuit against five people in the case of the Darbhanga train station explosion on June 17 in Bihar. The Darbhanga railway explosion was a failed attempt by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to set a moving train on fire in June this year. The investigation began when a package containing ready-to-wear clothing exploded and caught fire at Darbhanga station on June 17. A few minutes ago, the package had been transferred from the Secundarabad-Darbhanga Express.

In less than a week, the Center turned the case over to the NIA, with the first police investigations hinting at a plot involving terrorist operatives in Hyderabad. The NIA indictment charged five people in the plot, Nasir Malik, his brother Imran Malik, Saleem Ahmed, Kafil Ahmad and Hafeez Ekbal. While the first four were arrested, their fifth accomplice Hafeez Ekbal, according to the NIA, fled to Pakistan.

While the five defendants are residents of Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, the two brothers, Nasir and Imran, had settled in Hyderabad. Attempts were made to move these four to a foreign country via Nepal, according to a NIA statement, but the NIA has made rapid progress in arresting them.

Nasir Khan and his brother Imran Malik allegedly made an incendiary IED and wrapped it in a cloth bundle and booked the same on a long distance train from Secunderabad to Darbhanga.

Nasir Malik, who runs a clothing company, has been operating from Hyderabad for over two decades now. Nasir and Imran were in contact with LeT managers via encrypted communication platforms, the NIA official said.

On June 15, Imran Malik prepared an IED using a medicine vial and hid it in a package of ready-made women’s clothing. Police sources reveal that the accused had hoped that the explosion would be triggered within 16 hours of the train journey. However, as the explosive liquid escaped from the bottle into the wrapped newspapers and clothing, the intensity of the explosion in Darbhanga remained low.

“It was intended to cause an explosion and fire in a moving passenger train, causing enormous loss of life and property. The arrested accused, Mohd Nasir Khan, visited Pakistan in 2012 and received training from LeT handlers in making IEDs from locally available chemicals. He and his brother Imran were in contact with managers on encrypted communication platforms, ”reads a statement from the NIA published to this effect.

In the past, terrorists have used Bihar as both a recruiting center and a sanctuary. Since 2006, police have separately arrested at least 12 terrorists from Bihar, who were allegedly involved in various explosions in the country. In a separate development in September 2017, Tauseef aka Atik Khan, the mastermind of the 2008 Ahmedabad serial explosion that killed 56 people and injured over 200 innocent people, was caught hiding in Gaya. But the three serial explosions, two in Bodhgaya in July 2013 and January 2018 and one in October 2013, coupled with the June explosion in Darbhanga also suggest that Bihar is serving as both a recruiting center and a target area for them. terrorists.

Subscribe to India Today magazine

Sally J. Minick