A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team from Hyderabad carried out raids in Ranchi in search of a suspected SIMI activist, Manzar Imam,25, on Friday in connection with the Mumbai triple blasts.
The three member team led by an inspector, V V Murty raided Imam's house in Bariyatu locality in downtown Ranchi in the wee hours this morning and followed it again in the forenoon, but could not locate him. The team returned in the afternoon empty handed.
Although the team declined to speak on the purpose of its visit, sources in Jharkhand police said that they suspected Imam's involvement in blasts in Hyderabad and his active participation in SIMI organized training camp in Kerala in 2006.
"We allowed the team search the house and cooperated with them by sharing details of Imam's past and present activities," said the suspected SIMI activist's father, Ali Imam Khan. "But," he said, "We assured to hand him over to them if they came up concrete evidences proving his involvement in any of the anti-national and subversive activities."
Jharkhand cities, Ranchi and Jamshedpur, have recently been declared sensitive to terrorist attacks after raids by Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh police discovered SIMI's strong links and hideouts in the two cities.
While the raids in Jamshedpur in May this year revealed that SIMI's Madhya Pradesh unit president, Abu Faisal stayed in a rented house in a locality called Zakirnagar, the Andhra Pradesh police raided the house of Ranchi lad, Danish Reyaz last year after his name surfaced in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts and also in 2007 Hyderabad blasts. Reyaz, arrested from Gujarat, is accused of being the mastermind of the Ahmedabad blasts.
"Even I have heard of some Jharkhand youths' links with terrorist modules, but they do not stay here," said director general of police (DGP) G S Rath. He said NIA has tremendous powers and they do not have to ask us for carrying out raids in any part of the state.
Jharkhand police sources said that an Andhra Pradesh police team was in Ranchi two month back too to quiz Manzar Imam in connection with the Hyderabad blasts. Imam's name first cropped in the Samjhauta Express blast, but after prima facie inquiry, the ATS gave him a clean chit.
"We had succeeded in convincing both the AP and ATS teams of Imam's innocence," said elder brother, Nazir Khan. "But", he wondered, "Every time there's a bomb blast in any corner of the country some investigative agency came hunting for him to Ranchi."
The family is now accusing the Indian government for torturing his son and forcing the terrorist tag on him.
An Urdu (Honours) graduate with distinction from Ranchi University in 2004, Imam was a childhood friend of Danish Reyaz. Police suspects, Reyaz could have played a major role in inducting him into the terrorist modules.
"My brother is a Haji (one who has been Haj pilgim)," elder brother Nazir said, adding, "We have not allowed him to go out of the house for the last couple of years apprehending fake encounter."
Home secretary J B Tubid declined Jharkhand was on the terrorists' radar. "We are alert. There is no possibility of terrorists spreading their network in the state."