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Who bombed Agartala?

Who set off the bombs in Agartala? Top Tripura police officials have so far refused to speculate — and rightly. Rahul Karmakar examines.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2008 00:52 IST
Rahul Karmakar

Who set off the bombs in Agartala? Top Tripura police officials have so far refused to speculate — and rightly. There are just too many underground groups in this state — wedged tightly against Bangladesh — which have a past record of similar acts.

Outfits like the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and their splinter groups have often in the past lobbed grenades or planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in crowded, urban areas. But the marketplace buzz is that — given the similarity of the latest blasts with recent ones in other parts of the country — the same Islamist group could well be responsible.

“In the past, Tripura was a corridor for jehadi outfits infiltrating from Bangladesh. Groups like the NLFT survive because of support from the ISI, the Bangladeshi secret service, and the Harkat ul Jehadi Ansari (HuJI),” said G.M. Shrivastava, former Tripura DGP. “The NLFT then returns the favour by giving these jehadi elements safe passage into India to wreak mischief.” But this time the mischief seems to have been wreaked in Tripura’s capital itself.

Shrivastava also noted that a radical Muslim organisation called the Tablighi Jamaat had revived greatly in recent years, ever since some ex-members of the Students Islamic Movement of India took over key roles in it. Intelligence sources have linked Tablighi Jamaat to Al Qaeda, though the group itself insists it eschews violence.

Two Tablighi clerics were questioned two years ago in connection with the July 2006 Mumbai local train bombings. More recently, Tripura’s minority affairs minister Sahid Choudhury had to resign after his links with a Bangladeshi arms dealer called Mamun Mian, engaged in espionage within Indian soil, were exposed after the latter’s arrest.