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Terror in the hinterland

Terror in the hinterland
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While security agencies are putting in their best efforts to keep the national capital safe and secure from terror attacks, the national capital region (NCR) has emerged as the shelter for the terrorist.

Some members of their sleeping modules, reportedly housed in these areas, have been arrested by the security agencies but most of them are at large and are posing a huge threat to the nation.

Whether it is the kidnapping of foreign tourists from Paharganj, the Red Fort attack or any other attack carried out by the Indian Mujahideen in other parts of the country, all links have pointed to the terrorists’ Delhi-NCR connection. Terrorists often get shelter before or after conducting terror attacks in this area.

The recent arrest of two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives Rashid and Shahid in Mewat, near Gurgaon in Haryana, has once again raised the alarm bells for security agencies to counter the terror threat. Notorious terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, was arrested by the Indian authorities in connection with the kidnapping of foreign tourists from Paharganj area of Delhi in 1994 in Ghaziabad.

Sheikh was a member of Harkat-ul-Ansar and pretended to be an Indian after taking up Rohit Sharma as his name. The three British citizens were taken to a village near Saharanpur and kept captive by Sheikh’s associates. Police tracked the terrorists to Saharanpur. In the gunbattle that followed one terrorist was killed while two were captured.

On the tip-off received from these two terrorists, the police raided a house in Ghaziabad. Sheikh was wounded and arrested during the raid. He was, however, released in exchange of the passengers aboard hijacked Indian Airlines Flight IC-814. He subsequently went on to murder Daniel Pearl and was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court.

Another notorious terrorist who often took shelter in the NCR region was Syed Abdul Karim alias Tunda, an expert bomb maker of Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is accused of masterminding over 40 bomb blasts in the country.

He was arrested on 16 August, 2013 from the India-Nepal border. He started his career as a carpenter from his native village in Bazaar Khurd area in Pilkhuwa in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district. Tunda often visited Pilkhuwa later as well.

‘In Delhi, he spent most of his time at the Old Delhi Railway Station which serves as the first stop for fake currency being smuggled into the country from the Attari border with the connivance of some locals,’ said the police.

In year 1994, it was reported that Delhi police and the Intelligence Bureau raided Ashok Nagar area after receiving a tip-off from sources. Syed Abdul Karim alias Tunda had visited NCR as early as mid-June in 2013 and had managed to evade arrest till August 2013, sources said.

Earlier, a Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Mohammad Arif aka Ashfaq who killed three army jawans during an attack with automatic weapons on the Red Fort on 22 December, 2000, was traced by the police traced to DDA Flats, Ghazipur, Delhi. Ashfaq who was running a computer centre at Gaffur Nagar, Okhla, and was residing.

Three days later, he was arrested on the intervening night of 25-26 December. Police recovered a pistol and ammunition from him and also learnt about his associate who had stored ammunition at a place in Batla House in Okhla.

These terrorists often get support and information from the local sympathisers who play a crucial role in executing their terror plots. Terrorists prefer to stay in the NCR area to decide their target and for the recee purposes, said a Delhi police official. Meanwhile, a senior Gurgaon police official said that after the arrest of two LeT terrorists from Mewat district, the city police is on high alert to avert any terror strike. ‘We received the input from security agencies that numbers of terrorist outfits and their sleeping modules have been residing in Delhi NCR region. We are working with Delhi police and other agencies to counter this threat,’ said the official.
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