JMB (Jamaat-ulMujahideen Bangladesh) operatives could be plotting strikes to avenge the alleged killing of Muslims in Assam, Sahanur Alom, a key operative fronting as a dentist in the state, told officers of the elite National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Alom was arrested and is currently in NIA custody in connection with the Burdwan blast case.
“During interrogation, he tipped us about retaliatory strikes being planned by JMB operatives to avenge the killing of Muslims in Assam. He said bulk explosives from Bengal have already been smuggled into the state to carry out terror attacks. He said the JMB could also plan hits on some leaders of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB),” an NIA officer, who didn’t wish to be named, told HT.
The Bodo militant outfit, which has been waging an armed struggle for a separate state of Bodoland, has been known to target minorities in Assam.
Back in December, the Songbijit faction of the NDFB unleashed a wave of attacks across tribal villages of Assam, savaging more than 72 Adivasis. The deaths spawned retaliatory attacks at Bodo settlements and got the Assam government battling a fresh spell of chaos.
While the NIA was assigned to probe the killings, the Centre rushed the Army and paramilitary forces to hunt down the militants.
The state descended into chaos in 2012, as a wave of clashes between Bodos and Muslim immigrants claimed more than 100 lives and left scores more maimed.
Again, in May 2014, NDFB unleashed a series of strikes on the minorities. The militants reportedly targeted Muslim settlers at the western Baksa district of Assam, setting fire to houses and leaving at least five dead. The places chosen for these attacks were identified as those home to a sizeable Muslim population.
Next came the strike at midnight in the Kokrajhar district of Assam that left more than 10 Muslims dead.
In a fresh strike in western Baksa district, suspected NDFB cadres shot 40 Muslims dead and set fire to the houses of several others. The attack set off an exodus of minorities from their villages the day after.
“These attacks got the JMB to plot revenge strikes on NDFB operatives. He (Alom) got busy scouting for recruits and even offered dental treatment for free in the hope of luring youths to the JMB. Many JMB recruits were later sent to Bengal to take lessons in bomb making and brought home bulk explosives to target NDFB,” the NIA officer said.
“However, he (Alom) couldn’t when and by whom were these attacks likely to take place,” the officer said. During its probe into the accidental blast in a Burdwan safe house, CID drew bulk inputs pointing to the involvement of Alom and his wife Sujana.
The case was later handed to the NIA.
Acting on leads provided by the NIA, Assam police picked up Alom and wife. Alom and two fellow operatives were later brought to Bengal for interrogation.
“Assam police busted an arms dump of the JMB just days back and we believe that the weapons seized then were to be used for retaliatory strikes on NDFB,” the NIA officer said.