Two suspected Islamic State operatives (IS) were arrested in Uttar Pradesh on Friday while security agencies launched an extensive hunt for two more, all of whom are believed to be part of a terror outfit that was planning attacks on Republic Day celebrations and the Ardh Kumbh mela in Haridwar.
Security is being tightened across the country, especially in New Delhi, after four suspected militants were arrested in Haridwar by Delhi police earlier this week who revealed the terror plot.
The UP Anti-Terrorist Squad nabbed Aleem Ahmad from his house in Lucknow and Rizwan Ahmad from Kushinagar based on information acquired from the arrested four suspects, including Akhlaq ur Rehman who is believed to be the point man. The arrest came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting Lucknow.
Additional director general of police for law and order, Daljit Singh Chawdhary said both state and central security agencies were interrogating the duo to ascertain more details about the plot.
Information acquired from the first four suspects revealed that eight members of a terrorist outfit had held a secret meeting in Lucknow a few days ago in which they discussed their plans of attack.
A source said investigators believe Aleem Ahmad joined the IS through a social networking site some months ago and was receiving directions from Pakistan on the terror plot. “Aleem along with seven persons held a meeting at his Lucknow residence a month ago and planned to carry out blasts at Magh Mela,” he revealed.
Two others who were at the meeting are still at large and are suspected to be in or around Lucknow.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) with the anti-terror police are also the scanning the suspects’ online activity for a clue, the source added.
Security sweeps through the country further led to 14 suspected IS sympathisers being detained on Friday, five of who were arrested when explosive materials were recovered.
The NIA conducted the raids as intelligence indicated the suspects were trying to secure arms and ammunition. One Muttabir Mushtaq Sheikh, who is among those arrested and believed to be the leader of the group, allegedly received funds worth Rs 6 lakh, the NIA apparently told the home ministry according to a source.
The suspects were reportedly in touch with the Indian Mujahideen’s Shafi Armar.