The arrests of Tehseen Akhtar and four other operatives of the Indian Mujahideen have been yet another milestone in overall anti-terror operations since the deportment of Abu Jundal from West Asia in 2012. The fact that one of the operatives is a Pakistani national somewhat dents the old theory that foreigners have not been able infiltrate the ranks of this terror outfit. This is even more worrying when seen in the context of the revelation that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had masterminded the blast at the Indian Embassy in Kabul in 2008. The US knew about it but did not do much beyond rebuking the Pakistanis.
Though the Indian Mujahideen is now not so Indian, its genesis lies in certain political developments that took place in the heart of India, most notably the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. And it is not just the Indian Mujahideen or the Students’ Islamic Movement of India. Their ideological predecessors, though scattered, still exist and are able to regroup at any opportune moment to hold aloft their banner of radical Islam, as evidenced in the Bengaluru blast of April 17 last year. One such organisation is Al Umma, which was formed after the 1992-93 riots.
Two patterns in terrorist activities are clearly discernible. Following the unfortunate events of 1992-93, communal riots had given way to bomb blasts, though sectarian violence is reappearing. And secondly, the participants in terror activities are sometimes people who were born around the time of the Babri demolition and have grown up imbibing a psychology that divides more than it unites. Some of them, such Fasih Mohammed, who too was deported from Saudi Arabia, are well-educated also. Fasih moved from Bihar to Karnataka’s coastal town of Bhatkal to study engineering where he came in contact with the Bhatkal brothers, who initiated him into the Indian Mujahideen. Now, after the arrests of Abdul Karim ‘Tunda’, Yasin Bhatkal, Asadullah Akhtar and the latest five, and three deportments, it is time for the political leadership to do everything possible to heal the scars of the Babri demolition and prevent the alienation of the Muslim youth. And this stresses the need the rein in Hindu terrorist outfits such as the Abhinav Bharat and people like Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur.