The arrest of terror operatives of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India in Odisha has come as relief for the Madhya Pradesh police months ahead of the Simhastha fair in Ujjain.
The SIMI operatives escaped from Tantya Bheel Jail in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa on October 1, 2013, were arrested in Odisha’s Rourkela on Wednesday.
Five people were arrested — including three SIMI men who escaped from Khandwa Jail in 2013, their aide Saliq and Najma, the mother of one of the three arrested SIMI jail breakers Sheikh Mehboob alias Guddu — in a joint operation of the Odisha police’s special operations group (tactical unit) team and Telangana police under the supervision of the National Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau.
Odisha inspector general of police (western range) RK Sharma said their counterparts in Madhya Pradesh were informed about the arrest and a team of the state police has reached Rourkela to question the arrested men.
The arrested SIMI men who are being interrogated by central intelligence agencies and police at an undisclosed location, have revealed they had planned to carry out attacks during the Simhastha fair in Ujjain that is scheduled to be held in April-May this year, said sources in MP and Odisha police.
“Though the security arrangements for Simhastha fair will still be a comprehensive one, arrest of the SIMI activists has came as a big relief to us…They were a threat not only to Simhastha but other religious places of the country,” state home minister Babulal Gaur told Hindustan Times.
Gaur claimed it was the Madhya Pradesh police, which arrested the SIMI activists with the help of the police from Odisha.
“Director general of police Surendra Sinh shared the information with me about the arrest. The MP police team is still there. We will suitably reward the team,” he said.
SIMI men were planning a major bank dacoity in Chhattisgarh
During interrogation the arrested SIMI men revealed they were planning a major bank dacoity in Chhattisgarh.
Since 2009, the fugitives had committed 15-20 bank robberies in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha to fund terror operations, IGP Sharma said.
They are believed to behind the bank robberies in Katni, Itarasi, Dewas in 2009 and 2010 and the loot of 7 kg of gold from a finance company in Bhopal in 2011, police said.
In June 2011, the Madhya Pradesh ATS arrested the SIMI men, including their leader Abu Faisal alias Doctor.
SIMI operatives were involved in the murder of an MP ATS cop, an advocate and a bank manager
The SIMI operatives were also involved in the triple murder of an MP ATS constable, an advocate and a bank manager in Khandwa in November 2009.
Abu Faisal, who is lodged in Bhopal Central Jail, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Bhopal court in the 2009 for killing of an ATS constable.
Sheikh Mehboob’s mother missing for over an year
Meanwhile, a report from Khandwa said Sheikh Mehboob’s mother, Najma has been mysteriously missing for more than a year and half.
She told her father-in-law she was going to her parents’ place in Maharashtra, but did not return. She instead joined the SIMI fugitives to nurse Mehboob’s burns that he sustained while making an explosive that went off by accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor in September 2014.
Police declared a reward of `5000 for the arrest of Najma, who did not attend her husband, Ismail’s funeral six months back.