On September 21, when the Kolkata Police arrested Mehrunissa, 42, who had three different passports, they realised they had hit upon a network of recruiters for terror camps in Pakistan.
Mehrunissa, who allegedly lured around 50 youngsters from small towns in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with the promise of a better life in Malaysia , was at the centre of it.
Mehrunissa — also known as Malaysia— would have flown to Kuala Lumpur if the two men she sent from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh had not been caught at Bangkok airport and deported to India.
She was arrested at Kolkata airport when she arrived from Bangkok. Her local contact Babloo Shaw and her son Deepak were arrested in Kolkata’s Raja Bazar.
Amroha residents — Javed Alam, 29, of Raipur village and Wasim Ahmed, 26 of Danish Maidan — reportedly identified her as their mentor.
But, Mehrunissa told investigators that the two were destined to train at a jihadi camp in Pakistan’s south Punjab. “She has dispatched some 49 youths (27 from Uttar Pradesh alone) from Malaysia to Pakistan. The rest are from Bihar,” said a Kolkata Police official, who did not want to be identified. Security agencies are now looking for the missing men.
The Kolkata Police have shared information about the case with the Delhi Police, which are likely to join the investigations along with the anti-terrorist squad of Uttar Pradesh Police. “She (Mehrunissa) is part of a much bigger ring than we initially thought. We are trying to locate the families and the boys if they are in India,” a Delhi police officer said.
Mehrunissa spent a good part of her life in Agra’s Kasai Bara and ran a travel agency in Delhi before shifting to Saudi Arabia in the late nineties.
According to police sources, she got in touch with some Pakistan nationals and moved to Bangkok as Jyoti Rana. He companion was a Pakistani man, who had been identified as Ali.
Ali would take away the legal papers of the youngsters Mehrunissa brought to Malaysia and try to convert them to the jihadi cause, an UP police officer said on condition of anonymity. He said, ““This channel is supplying man power to terror groups for three years.”
With the investigation set to expand in several states, the police are looking for Kamlesh Shaw — Babloo’s brother and a confidant of Mehrunissa. He was with her at the time of her arrest, but managed to slip away. Kamlesh allegedly arranged travel documents for Javed and Wasim.