The arrest of two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) suspects, allegedly owning allegiance to the outfit's module busted in Delhi on Wednesday, has once again exposed Jharkhand's vulnerability as a potential terrorist breeding centre. The duo, both of Kashmiri origin and in their early 20s, had been staying in Jharkhand for the past couple of years.
While one of them was arrested in Delhi with a heavy cache of explosives, the Jharkhand Police arrested the second one from Hazaribagh, around 100 km north of Ranchi in wee hours of Wednesday.
Confirming the arrest, a senior police official told HT that the two arrested LeT suspects had been staying in Hazaribagh as students where they planned the attacks.
"After being tipped off by the Delhi Police, we were closely monitoring their movement. The second suspect, whom we arrested this morning from Hazaribagh, often used to shuttled between the city and Giridih - another sleepy town in the north of Ranchi. His uncle, an employee with the Kashmir government, has a house in Giridih," the officer said.
Hazaribagh's connection with terrorist outfits was first unearthed in 2002 when the state police gunned down two alleged Pakistani terrorists - Zahid and Salim - who were involved in the Kolkata American Centre attack the same year.
Before succumbing to his injuries, Zahid had confessed to his Pakistani nationality and told the police that he belonged to Khanewala district in Multan division.
Connections of other Jharkhand cities such as Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad with terrorist groups like LeT, Indian Mujahideen and SIMI have also been exposed in the past.
The recent example was the arrest of Ranchi-based software engineer, Danish Riyaz, a SIMI leader in June, 2011, from Vadodara in Gujarat and a hunt for his schoolmate Manzar Imam. Both were from Bariatu in Ranchi.
National Investigative Agency (NIA) was investigating Danish and Imam's possible involvement in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts and other terror-related activities.