B’lore blast probe proves TN terrorists’ haven

published on May 14, 2013

With the arrest of 28-year-old Zulfiqar Ali, a Coimbatore resident, the number of people held from Tamil Nadu in connection with the April 17 bomb blast near the BJP office in Bangalore has gone up to 10. Intelligence agencies, both the Central and State, are worried over the fact that Tamil Nadu is being used as a safe haven by various terrorist elements and extremists.

“Zulfiqar is a graduate in electronics and electrical engineering. All the 10 who were held from Tamil Nadu belong to the upper strata of society. This is disturbing,” a senior intelligence official told The Pioneer.

He said grey areas in laws and rules make it difficult for intelligence officials to pursue and track individuals suspected of links to terrorism. The official said the police has established Zulfiqar’s link with Al Umma and other extremist organisations.

He also said the absence of strong laws come in the way of intelligence gathering. “We got information that 12 extremists who were trained in Pakistani camps have entered India through the Nepal border. We also got the information that nine of them hailed from Tamil Nadu while the remaining three are from Kerala. We could not get more details because of lack of coordination between agencies in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka,” he said. According to him, all the nine youth could have joined sleeping cells spread across Tamil Nadu.

The modus operandi of the extremists hailing from Tamil Nadu and Kerala is simple. “They strike wherever they want except in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. After the execution of the work, they silently and effortlessly withdraw to their safe shelters in these States,” he said.

Noted security analyst and counter terrorism expert B Raman had termed Tamil Nadu as the epicentre of Al Umma terrorism. Though Al Umma, responsible for the 1998 Coimbatore blasts in which more than 50 persons were killed, is banned, it is operating all over South India under various names and labels.

According to Raman, a former additional secretary in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s counter-terrorism leadership is in a state of decline. “The delay in the setting up of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) because of the absence of political consensus has left a big gap in our counter terrorism architecture,” said Raman.

Though banned in 1998 for its involvement in the Coimbatore serial blasts, Al Umma is active all over Tamil Nadu under various names and labels. Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, a political outfit which is an ally of the ruling AIADMK, is a frontal organisation of Al Umma. Its lone MLA MH Jawaharullah, is a law unto himself.

The fact that Islamic extremist elements have grown into a hydra-headed monster came out in the open during September 2012, when hundreds of activists drawn from various Islamic outfits held the city to ransom for three days. The agitation was to protest against the movie Innocence of Muslims, produced in the US. Police is yet to understand how a protest march turned out to be a “siege” to the Mount Road, the main thoroughfare in the capital city.

“Friday prayer meetings are used by leaders of extremist organisations for networking with the faithful. They are supported by Moulavis who through their sermons exhort the people to extend all support to the extremist elements,” said the intelligence official.

Al Umma and Jihad Committee were formed following the countrywide ban on SIMI. Al Umma made its presence felt in Tamil Nadu with a bomb blast at the RSS headquarters in Chennai in November 1993, killing 11 RSS workers.

The Jihad Committee, which has been regularly indulging in communal riots in the State, disintegrated when its leader Palani Baba was murdered by Hindu activists. The MMK was launched to give a political colour to Islamic fundamentalism. It was founded by Hyder Ali, a SIMI activist and former associate of Palani Baba in the Jihad Committee, who left Al Umma after a tiff with its president Basha.

“Neither the banning of SIMI and Al Umma, nor disintegration of the Jihad Committee reduced Islamic fundamentalism in Tamil Nadu. In fact, it started growing in different names with the support of Dravidian parties, which go to any extent for the sake of vote banks,” said BR Haran, a political commentator.

The latest additions to the list are Tamil Nadu Thauheed Jamaath and SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India). Though they look like competing with each other in the social arena in taking up the cause of Muslims, they have a tacit understanding when it comes to fundamentalism. “The recent happenings in Tamil Nadu, such as, protests for movies like Innocence of Muslims, Thuppakki and Vishwaroopam, and the surge in attacks on BJP cadre and various other Hindu organisations, all point to the fact that all these organisations would come together on a common ground whenever required,” said Haran.

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