The arrest of Indian Mujaihideen founder Yasin Bhatkal on Thursday has swung the spotlight back to Mithilanchal region of Bihar from where over a dozen terrorists having links with the home-grown terrorist outfit were picked up in the last couple of years.
Most of the IM operatives were arrested on suspicion of their roles in several deadly blasts across the country including the explosions at the German bakery in Pune, Jama Masjid in delhi and Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore.
Over the past two years, at least 14 IM operatives were arrested from the Mithilanchal region, which spans Darbhanga and Madhubani districts.
The rising number of arrests of Muslim youths from Darbhanga - 132 km from Patna along the Indo-Nepal border - has not only put the area on the map of intelligence agencies but brought to fore how youngsters from the minority community were being pushed to the world of terror by elements like Bhatkal, also known as ‘Dr Imran’.
Former Bihar IPS officers and intelligence officials, who have worked in Mithilanchal regions of Darbhanga-Madhubani, attribute the growing radicalisation to rampant unemployment and poverty in the districts, especially among the Muslims community, which make up a strong 3.2 million of the population, according to the 2001 census.
Former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval reasoned that Darbhanga and Madhubani have been preferred hotspots for indoctrinating Muslim youths due to the high density of Muslim population as well as the proximity of the area to the porous Indo-Nepal.
"IM members target densely populated Muslim areas. They find it easy to spread the message of fundamentalism as the society in these areas is largely conservative,” Doval said.
IB sources also reason the same, insisting that Darbhanga has been a prominent centre of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which took a different shape once the organisation was banned in early 2000, prompting elusive operatives like Bhatkal to raise well-oiled IM cells in the district.
IB sources here do not rule out the possibility that IM operatives could be using some of the madarsas to spread their hardcore fundamental views among the younger generation just to increase cadre strength.
But, there has been no concrete evidence found in that regard so far.
Arun Bhagat, formerly of the Research and Analysis Wing, said a terrorist group works like a queen bee. “After a systematic geographical search of a particular Muslim-dominated area, outfits like IM start a nucleus, recruiting new members. That is the reason why there are so many are from Darbhanga,” he said.
However, the major arrests by intelligence agencies from Darbhanga in the last couple of years has had its political impact with the opposition RJD terming the arrests as victimisation of Mulsim youths in the name of terror as well as slamming the state government for allowing police of other states to carry operations without taking prior permission of local authorities as per federal norms.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, cornered by the opposition’s attack, had strongly raised objection over such covert operations by police of Karnataka by writing a letter to the union government last year.
Besides, he has expressed his reservations at various platforms over the attemps to brand the two districts as terror hubs.
“There is nothing called Darbhanga module and Madhubani module,” he had said recently.