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Madhya Pradesh to legislate anti-terror law

Worried over growing activities of radical Islamist groups, Madhya Pradesh is hoping to have its own anti-terror law.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2006 10:12 IST

Worried over growing activities of radical Islamist groups, Madhya Pradesh, one of India's largest states, is hoping to have its own anti-terror law.

Senior officials say the proposed legislation would be modelled on the lines of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and will be used to deal with "anti-national elements".

Such a move was thought of a few years ago but it could not take concrete shape due to lack of political will.

The police argue that an anti-terror law was the need of the hour because the state had become a safe haven for "anti-nationals" and even Pakistani nationals with dubious background.

A large number of activists of the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have been arrested in large numbers in the state, especially from the western region.

"While SIMI activities were confined to Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Bhopal before the ban on it in 2001, they have spread to Burhanpur, Guna, Neemuch and Shajapur as well now," one police official said.

Before the ban, 33 cases were registered against SIMI activists in various districts for spreading religious discord. Since then, however, 49 cases have been filed against the body.

SIMI national general secretary Safdar Nagauri, an Ujjain resident in his 40s, has been absconding since the ban. "He has cases against him of spreading religious discord since 1997-98," Ajay Kumar Sharma, a deputy inspector general of police, said.

Since the ban, 180 SIMI activists have been arrested from across the state. And since April this year, five SIMI members including two women have been taken into custody in Khandwa, four in Burhanpur and one each in Jabalpur and Ujjain.

"It is not SIMI alone but several anti-national forces, including the underworld and Pakistani spies, have joined hands," says Sanjeev Kumar Singh, the Bhopal range inspector general.

Abdul Sami, a Pakistani criminal from Karachi, sneaked into India and lived in Bhopal like a local and spied on military establishments.

"Madhya Pradesh has become a safe haven for notorious criminals and terrorists due to lack of coordination among the police forces of different states," a Special Branch officer said.

Abdul Sami lived in the Gandhi Nagar area of Bhopal when he was arrested. He had a driving licence, a ration card, a job as data entry operator at a foreign bank and his name was enrolled as an Indian voter - all that is needed to prove one's nationality. But he turned out to be a Pakistani, spying for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Security officers say Sami's arrest underlines the deep penetration role played by Pakistani moles in India. It shows how easy it is to obtain Indian official documents - for a price.

Three days after he was arrested, police in Jabalpur town caught another Pakistani, Ejad-ul-Hassan alias Imran. He too was a Pakistan spy launched from Bangladesh.

The police and the military intelligence raided a photocopy centre in the cantonment area in Jabalpur and recovered several classified documents and maps, related to army training and an ordnance factory.

Fareed Ahmad, arrested in April 2002, was an assistant research officer at an atomic research institute in Islamabad and had lived in Bhopal for five years. He came to Bhopal in 1991 on a 90-day visa and then on a 45-day visa six years later but stayed on.

During his illegal stay, Fareed, then 46, worked as a SIMI office secretary and took part in its national convention in Delhi. He was also from Karachi.

The police had another shock when it came to know of a retired soldier of Katni district who recruited spies to work for ISI. He confessed to having visited Dhaka several times, with help from one Abdul Qasim, to obtain special training in spying.

Four others, including two each from Katni and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, were then arrested.

Another ISI agent, Aquib, who was arrested in New Delhi, had also stayed in Bhopal and Indore on several occasions.

"I was given the task of making contacts in this region besides establishing a headquarters as well," Aquib told Indian officials. Aquib lived for several months at Shamla Hills, where the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister resides.

First Published: Aug 17, 2006 10:12 IST