Centre Seeks Report On IS Operatives In WB

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Kolkata: The Centre has asked Bengal for a detailed report on the Islamic State ‘recruiters’ and ‘sleeper cells’ present in the state. The MHA query came after Dhaka, in 2016, shared a dossier with New Delhi indicating a sharp spurt in cross-border infiltration of JMB and Huji militants.

The MHA, according to sources, has alerted the state that IS is making inroads in parts of Assam, Haila and Kandi in Tripura and Bengal’s bordering districts with Bangladesh, and even Howrah. The letter also cites intelligence inputs that said sympathisers from Bengal are maintaining sporadic contact with IS handlers in Raqqa, Syria. Sources, however, didn’t elaborate on how this is being done.

MHA, sources said, is worried that there has been more than threefold increase of infiltration of Huji and JMB terrorists into Bengal, Assam and Tripura in 2016 compared to 2015 and 2014. According to sources, there is some worrying evidence of this. In March, a travel agent from Mumbai informed the anti-terror squad that 27 Murshidabad residents who went for Haj hadn’t returned. Little information has been gleaned about them since. A few weeks later, in April, Birbhum police seized 1.8 lakh detonators from a mini truck bearing a Telangana registration number along Nalhati-Bahadurpur Road, which connects Birbhum with Jharkhand. The driver of the truck and his helper were arrested.

After questioning Md Masiruddin alias Musa al-Bengali, a native of Birbhum’s Labhpur, NIA received specific inputs on the increasing IS network in the state. NIA sources said Musa’s arrest on July 4, 2016, may have halted the terror-group’s plans, but its long-term implications need to be assessed properly. The state has also been advised to conduct regular meetings with BSF to check infiltration.

“We have asked all the commissionerates, different investigating agencies and the SPs of the bordering districts to submit detailed reports. We will compile the reports and send it to the Centre,” a home department official said.

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