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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bihar, Jharkhand are safe zones for terror

The Nitish Kumar government sat on the proposal to create ATS for four years. In Jharkhand, the proposal to set up ATS has been pending for three years.
he casual attitude of the state governments of Bihar and Jharkhand in tackling terror related activities, despite available proof, has made the two states "safe zones" for terror outfits. The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar sat on the home department's proposal to set up an Anti-Terrorism Squad for four years. It swung into action only after the Bodhgaya blasts on 7 July 2013. The state Cabinet cleared the proposal two days after the blasts. The Bihar Public Service Commission and the Staff Selection Commission have been asked to follow up on the decision. The situation is similar in Jharkhand. In the last few years, Darbhanga, Madhubani and Samastipur in Bihar have provided safe hideouts to terrorists. Darbhanga's proximity to the porous India-Nepal border offers the perfect escape route to them. However, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is opposed to the use of the phrase "Darbhanga module" and said as much at a meeting of Chief Ministers last year. Many terrorists have been arrested from this region. In 2011, the Delhi police arrested suspected Indian Mujahideen operatives from Madhubani for their alleged role in planning and executing the Pune's German Bakery blast of February 2010, the Bangalore Chinnaswamy Stadium blast of April 2010 and for a Jama Masjid shootout in September 2010. The Maharashtra ATS arrested Naqi Ahmed Wasi Ahmed Sheikh and Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaq Sheikh in the July 13 2011 Mumbai blasts case, from Darbhanga. Tehseen Akhtar, now arrested in connection with the Patna blasts, has been wanted by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) for a long time. The agency had raided places like Samastipur, Darbhanga, Munger and Madhubani while searching for him. The NIA also arrested Yasin Bhatkal from the Nepal-Bihar border on 29 August 2013. Terming the Bihar government's approach as "callous", BJP Rajya Sabha member C.P. Thakur said besides setting up an ATS, the Bihar government should take intelligence inputs seriously to prevent incidents like the Patna serial blasts in future. "The government needs to fix the porous Nepal-Bihar border. Also the issue needs to be seen in its social context. The government needs to find out why Bihari youths are being picked up by terror outfits," he said. Jharkhand, from where the alleged IM terrorists have been arrested in connection with the Patna serial blasts, is not far behind. The Jharkhand police sent a proposal three years ago to the state home department to set up an ATS, but the proposal has got entangled in bureaucratic wrangling. No one knows the status of the proposal. As per the proposal, the ATS was supposed to have a strength of 500 personnel and is to be headed by a DIG rank officer. As many as 10 terrorists, having links with the IM, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have been arrested from the state in the last 13 years. In 2002, two Pakistani terrorists, Zahid and Salim, involved in the terror attack on Kolkata's American Centre, were gunned down in Hazaribagh. The Madhya Pradesh police arrested Abu Faizal, a suspected SIMI member, from Jamshedpur. In the recent past, Danish Riyaz and Manzar Imam, associated with SIMI, were arrested from Ranchi in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Last year, suspected LeT member Ehtesham Malik, was arrested in Delhi, after visiting Hazaribagh, where his mother lives. His cousin Tauseef Ahmad Pir was arrested from Hazaribagh. Sources say that terror modules operate from Hazaribagh, Giridih, Pakur, Jamtara, Ranchi and Jamshedpur. Former Jharkhand Director General of Police R.R. Prasad says it will be improper to term the region as a "terror hub". "We are living in a complex world. Of course, some terrorists have been arrested from this part but that does not mean that it is a terror centre. It's like any other place in the country where terrorists take shelter," he said. The retired top cop, however, said "routine policing" needs to be strengthened — whether it is for handling regular law and order or deal with Naxalism or terrorism. "All this talk of ATS is a fancy idea. The best intelligence input comes from the local daroga (officer in-charge of the police station)," he maintained. On the response to the Patna serial blasts, Prasad said that Bihar and Jharkhand police displayed "excellent coordination", which led to the arrest of the accused within 48 hours.
News Credits The Sunday Gaurdian,2 Nov 2013

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