What made Mithilanchal in north Bihar — where more than 12 persons with supposed links with the Indian Mujahideen (IM) were picked up in the last couple of years — a breeding ground for terrorists?
Former Bihar-cadre IPS officers and intelligence officials who have worked in the Mithilanchal region of Darbhanga-Madhubani attribute the growing radicalisation to the rampant unemployment and poverty in the districts, especially among the Muslims, which number 3.2 million, according to the 2001 census.
Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) director Ajit Doval says Darbhanga and Madhubani have been hotspots for indoctrinating the Muslim youth due to the high density of the community’s population as well as the proximity of the area to the porous India-Nepal border.
“IM members target densely-populated Muslim areas. They find it easy to spread the message of fundamentalism as society in these areas is conservative,” Doval said.
Other intelligence sources maintain the same position, saying that Darbhanga has been a prominent centre of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which took a different shape once the organisation was banned in the early 2000s, prompting elusive operatives such as Yasin Bhatkal to raise well-oiled IM cells in the district.
Of the arrests made recently, Qateel Siddiqi, 27, and Gauhar Aziz Khomani, 31 — picked up in Delhi on November 22 and 23, 2011 — were said to be the main associates of Bhatkal, who is also known as “Dr Imran”.
IB sources do not rule out the possibility that IM operatives could be using madarsas to spread their hard-core fundamentalist views among the younger generations. But, there has been no solid evidence found on that so far.