Bengal with its porous borders has turned into an easy transit point and secure hideout for the agents of terror outfits like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Pakistani secret service ISI.
“Bengal’s border is porous and this was used by militant groups to get an entry into the country and spread to other states. This is nothing new. The state has become a safe and secure shelter for them,” a top CID officer said.
Militant outfits like JMB, ISIS and ISI operatives are recruiting agents and training them here, he added.
A special task force of Kolkata Police had arrested six top JMB militants, including four wanted, in connection with the 2014 Khagragarh blast case, from West Bengal and Assam in September.
“Taking advantage of the unemployment situation, the agents have been recruiting people with ease. These groups also have recruitment cells which look for possible youths either studying in senior schools or looking for job as their possible targets,” the CID official said, adding social networking sites have played crucial roles in this connection.
“Now, one can scan through anybody’s profile sitting thousands of kilometres away in another country to choose a possible candidate. Then the message goes to the outfit’s local agent to do the needful to get the person under its umbrella,” he said.
The officer cited the arrest of 18-year-old student of a private polytechnic college in Durgapur in Burdwan district, Ashik Ahmed by NIA for his links to the ISIS in March.
Ashik, who was trying to build a unit of ISIS in West Bengal, was the second youth to be arrested from the state after Mehdi Masroor Biswas, for his links to the Pakistani agency.
A senior officer of Kolkata Police told reporters that the state’s strategic location along the international border and the slack security arrangement at a few places has made such incidents possible through the last decade or more.
In December last year, Kolkata Police STF had arrested one labourer, a couple of passport agents, a college student and a bartender for alleged links with ISI.
The arrest of the bartender from the central part of the city had revealed that a network of ISI agents were working in the state, he added.
The officer said: “Specific roles were given to each of these agents by ISI. Some are here to recruit agents, some others to collect information from areas where the Navy, Army or the Air Force has its base.”
“There are people who smuggle in high quality fake Indian currency notes and spread them here with the aim to devastate the economy,” he said.
Intelligence sources here said JMB and the IS have spread their network in Howrah, and North and South 24 Parganas districts.
“They have set up organisational bases in districts like Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan and Birbhum and we are probing whether they have spread into other states like Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya etc,” the officer said.
“The ISI agents first bring outsiders into the country through Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan and help them settle by providing fake passports, fake voter identity cards, Aadhar cards and ration cards,” the CID officer said.
The cultivation of illegal poppy in the state and smuggling it to other parts even across the border to
foreign lands has become one of the principal sources of funds for terror outfits like ISIS and JMB.