As the Bengal connection with Tuesday’s Jaipur series blasts gets stronger, a covert nationwide operation has been launched to look for sleeper cells of Harkat-ul-Jehadi-al-Islami (HuJI) and other Islamist terror groups. While the focus of the operation is likely to be on north Bengal, north Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, intelligence inputs point to Agra, Goa and Darjeeling being on the terrorists’ hit list.
Sources said actions taken by various states are based on inputs from military intelligence (MI) and the central Intelligence Bureau (IB), with the state police doing the groundwork. “The operation is to look for probable sleeper cells that have been lying dormant. The information about some cells were received from one Ali, who was apprehended from Malda about two months ago,” a Defence Ministry officer said.
MI sources said Ali’s confession has emerged a key ingredient in the hunt for dormant terror cells. “Ali admitted that Agra, Goa and Darjeeling were on their list and would have been hit sooner or later,” a senior officer said.
Intelligence sources said the turning point in unraveling the terror network was the arrest of HuJI commander Muhammad Jalaluddin alias Babu Bhai from Lucknow in 2007, which led to specific proof that the group was behind several blasts, with the modus operandi matching that in the Jaipur blasts.
“During interrogation, Jalaluddin had disclosed that Jaipur was next on the HuJI hit list,” an IB officer said.
SSP Amitabh Yash of the Special Task Force of the UP Police told Hindustan Times on the phone that their experience pointed towards help from locals. “In every such incident, the terrorists took help from locals. Even at Jaipur, we’ve called people with a West Bengal connection for questioning. However, we’re yet to receive any lead that could help us crack the case,” he said. Yash said that as Jalaluddin belongs to Kolkata, a Bengal connection in the blasts was likely.
The IB officer said that after his operations in UP, Jalaluddin was to visit the Pink City and hand over RDX and other explosive material to a Bengali Jaipur resident called Madhu.