Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kerala’s terror trail

December 18th, 2009

With the exposure of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) in north Kerala and finger of suspicion pointing to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and Islamist extremist Abdul Nasser Madani’s wife Sufiya, the politicians of Kerala are in a rush to prove their innocence. Nasir Tadiyandavede and his brother-in-law Shafaz Shamsuddin are both from Kannur in Kerala and are accused of carrying out the July 25, 2008 Bengaluru serial blasts with funding and instructions from the LeT.

Remember how the same politicians, in almost one voice, had moved the Kerala Assembly to ask the Tamil Nadu government to release the same Madani from Coimbatore prison where he was facing trial in the serial bombing case of 1998, set up to assassinate the BJP leader, Mr L.K. Advani. When finally Madani was able to win acquittal in the case, the same leaders from both the Left Front and the Congress made a beeline to the airport to receive him and even gave him a public reception.

After cosying up to the PDP leader in the May general elections, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan staged a protest and declared that his department would not interfere with the ongoing police investigations into Sufia Madani’s alleged role in various terrorist activities.

The lady has sought anticipatory bail as the Kerala police was closing in upon her for allegedly directing the Tamil Nadu bus burning in Kalamassery, Kerala.

T. Nasir, yet another alleged kingpin in the terror machine, now held between the Karnataka and Kerala police on suspicion of multiple roles in the serial bombing incidents in Bengaluru and the detailed plans to blow up several places in Kerala and elsewhere, has turned out to be a major LeT operative in the state.

He has confessed to receiving funds from Pakistani agencies. Nasir had been the key LeT operative recruiting Muslim youngsters from Kerala to join the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian security forces, after gunning down five infiltrators in Jammu and Kashmir, busted the LeT activity that had been on for years, especially in Kannur in north Malabar — hotbed of the Communists where CPI(M) cadres have killed several RSS, Congress and other political workers.

In Kerala politics, the CPI(M) had long been suspected of supporting Islamic radicals. The revelations of Nasir only strengthen those suspicions.

Nasir’s activities for the LeT were widespread. He recruited young people for militancy in Kashmir. He conducted camps at many places where young people from his community were brainwashed and even trained in arms and bomb-handling.

For some years this went on and the Kerala police had little hint about them. When the police managed to locate Nasir after he conducted a camp at Vakathanam, near Kottayam in central Kerala, political interference prevented the police from following the trail.

The busting came only after four of the five militants killed in Kashmir were found to be from Kerala. The security forces there suspected that the fifth man had escaped. He was Jabbar, ultimately traced to Hyderabad.

The Central government’s instructions to the Kerala police to track this recruitment forced the Left Democratic Front state government to track down Nasir. He escaped while being led away by the police. Surely there was complicity at some level from powerful politicians that enabled him to escape from a posse of 100 policemen.

State home minister Balakrishnan now claims that he had informed the Research and Analysis Wing last April itself that Nasir had escaped to Bangladesh. The state home minister blames political rivals for drumming up a controversy over handling of terrorists.
In Kerala, the UDF and LDF are winning power and losing it by turn with clockwork regularity. It was during the UDF rule that Nasir-led terrorists burnt the Tamil Nadu bus to protest the Chennai government’s refusal to release Madani on parole from Coimbatore.

Many other terrorist acts took place during UDF rule. So, there is perhaps little to choose between the UDF and the LDF. Both are more concerned with their vote banks among Muslims rather than public safety against terror attacks.

Nasir was finally located in Bangladesh. The charges against this LeT operative are many. He is accused of not only recruiting for the militant cause but also actively helping militant activity in India. His most daring act was to steal 200 kg of ammonium nitrate, a potent bomb-making material, from an Alwa-based explosives shop. This material was used to fuel several bomb attacks in Kerala, Bengaluru, as well as in other cities.

Another mystery behind the whole series of events is that the explosives shop owner who had reported the theft of ammonium nitrate etc from his shop soon withdrew his complaint. The Kerala police also did not pursue the case effectively. Who was behind this complete lack of responsible behaviour on the part of the security forces is a matter to be found out. Sources say if this is investigated, further linkages of Pakistan-based terror organisations with some key Kerala politicians would be exposed.

Where does this cascade of revelations and finding of large quantities of explosive material lead to? Kerala, especially the Muslim-concentrated northern part of it, was yet another breeding ground of terror with organic linkages to LeT in Pakistan and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in Bangladesh. The same part of Kerala is also a pocket borough of the CPI(M).

The CPI(M) might now declare itself untainted by terror and communal extremism. But the finger of accusation and mound of evidence point as much to it as they do to Madani and Nasir and a host of others. The prevalence of this politician-extremist-linked fifth column within — Kannur, Hyderabad, Azamgarh, the trail goes to Kashmir — forms a huge question mark before the country.

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