SIMI operatives had planned to rob a bank to execute Simhastha attack | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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SIMI operatives had planned to rob a bank to execute Simhastha attack

The four Students Islamic Movement of India operatives, who were arrested from Odisha on February 17, had planned to rob a bank in Chhattisgarh for carrying out attacks during the Simhastha fair in Ujjain that is scheduled to be held in April-May this year.

bhopal Updated: Feb 19, 2016 21:58 IST
Anuraag Singh

The four Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operatives, who were arrested from Odisha on February 17, had planned to rob a bank in Chhattisgarh for carrying out attacks during the Simhastha fair in Ujjain that is scheduled to be held in April-May this year. They had also rented a house in Nangamahal and were planning to hide there after the attack.

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.

The operatives of the banned Islamist student organisation and Najma were shifted to Bhubaneshwar on police remand on Friday, police said. They have been identified as Sheikh Mehboob, his mother Najma Bi, Zakir Hussain, Amjad and Mohammed Saliq.

According to Odisha police CB-CID sources, the SIMI operatives had planned to loot a bank in Chhattisgarh in February-March to generate funds for executing the attack at Simhastha. They had a plan to loot a bank in Odisha too, they said.

The men had also rented a house in Nangamahal, where they had decided to hide after executing the attack. The house has been sealed by the local police. Both, the MP and Odisha police teams, are quizzing the landlord who rented the house to the SIMI men and Najma.

The operatives of the banned Islamic students’ organisation were planning to use four motorbikes, lifted from different places in Rourkela, execute the bank robbery. The bikes had been parked at parking lots in Janjgir-Champa district of Odisha, police said, adding that the men had conducted a recee for carrying out the bank attack.

During interrogation the SIMI operatives also revealed they were involved in October 2013 blast at Patna railway station, just a short while before similar blasts ripped the Bihar capital ahead of the then NDA prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s Hunkar Rally at Gandhi Maidan. The accused also confessed to their involvement in the May 1, 2014 Guwahati-Bengaluru Express blast at Chennai railway station, in which a woman IT professional was killed. The accused have admitted triggering twin low-intensity blasts outside two police stations in Pune in July 2014.

Madhya Pradesh ATS is hopeful to obtain the remand of the five accused and bring them to the state for further interrogation after the Odisha crime branch’s remand till March 1 ends.

Cops stumble on SIMI hideout while tracking Najma

Sustained tracking of Sheikh Mehboob’s mother Najma Bi, a resident of Ganesh Talai locality of MP’s Khandwa district, by state ATS is believed to have helped the NIA and IB to tip-off the Odisha and Telangana police about the hideout of the SIMI operatives on Wednesday morning in Rourkela.

According to a senior police official in MP, the state police was tailing Najma from Khandwa to Maharashtra and from Hyderabad to Odisha. It was this tracking, which led the anti-terror security establishment to finally nab the four SIMI men and Najma.

THE FIVE SIMI MEN

Amjad Khan: Amjad Khan alias Daud alias Pappu alias Umer is a native of Chira Khadan, Khandwa. Khan along with Sheikh Mehboob killed BJP leader Pramood Tiwari in a shootout.

Sheikh Mehboob: Sheikh Mehboob alias Guddu alias Sameer alias Ramesh is a native of Ganesh Talai, Khandwa. He was involved in the jail break in October 2013. A daily wage labourer before coming in touch with the banned organisation, Mehboob is a key accused in Tiwari’s murder.

Zakir Hussain: Zakir Hussain alias Vikki Don alias Vinay Kumar is a native of a slum near Sales Tax colony in Khandwa. In 2009, he killed ATS cop Sitaram Yadav in Khandwa and in 2011 he shot an ATS jawan Shiv Pratap in Ratlam.

Saliq: Saliq alais Sallu is a native of Gulshan Nagar, Khandwa. He is the brother of a former police constable. Salik is a hardcore SIMI activist and fled when police raided a house at Gulmohar colony in the district from where police recovered SIMI literature in 2011.

Nazma Bi: Nazma Bi has no police records. When his son (Mehboob) was injured in Bijnoor, she went to him and since then has lived with him.

(With inputs from Vinit Kumar Koneru, Indore)