The Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday claimed to have arrested 10 members, including a Christian, of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) from Khandwa, about 70 km from the Maharashtra border.
The group was allegedly planning retaliatory attacks in the wake of the recent arrests of SIMI functionaries across the state. A hardcore member Aqeel Khilji and four others, however, managed to escape, said an ATS official.
In probably the first case of a Christian being associated with the SIMI, Babbu Dominique, 21, was among those arrested on late Monday night.
Inspector general of police (ATS) Vipin Maheshwari said membership forms for the banned group were recovered, along with related literature and four pistols, from the accused.
A top SIMI leader Abu Faisal had recently been caught after the ATS conducted a statewide operation, following the killings of ATS personnel by SIMI operatives. About a dozen SIMI functionaries were earlier arrested from Bhopal and Jabalpur.
Babbu’s antecedents are unknown. “It is yet to be ascertained whether he is ideologically indoctrinated. He might have even got converted,” said an ATS official.Babbu's father, Dominique Das, however, said, "My son was coming home after collecting his daily wages when ATS officers picked him up. He knew Zakir, a SIMI man, and that is his only fault."
The ATS also claimed to have solved one of the biggest robberies in the state, at Manappuram Gold finance company, with the recovery of 6 kg gold from the arrested members.
The others arrested on Tuesday are Khalil Chauhan (34), Amjad (22), Ziaurrahman (19), Jalil (18), Irfan (24), Abdullah (19) Rashid (31), Raqeeb (27) and Ashfaq (20).
(With inputs from Sunil Keralkar, Khandwa)