Friday, June 27, 2008

PUNE : Bangladesh connection: City’s terror links emerge yet again

Chandan Haygunde
Posted online: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 10:26:12
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 10:26:12

Pune June 24 Contrary to public perception, Pune and terror are no strangers, with the first reported incident traced to 1986 - the assassination of General Arun Kumar Vaidya. Over the next two decades, the city’s terror links have blown hot and cold, whether it be the banned outfit Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence or top naxals such as Kuru alias Amar Devender who was arrested in Pune last year, eliciting the response from Y Gangadhar, Superintendent of Police in Andhra Pradesh that “Ultras like Amar prefer to stay in Pune for maintaining anonymity.”

But the latest threat that Pune is facing is from Bangladesh. Since 2005, the district has witnessed the arrests of no less than 50 Bangladeshi intruders. The situation is alarming say intelligence agencies. The cycle blasts, that killed over 60 people in Jaipur last month, had pointed at the involvement of Harkatul Jihadi Islamia (HUJI), a Bangladesh-based militant group. And some of the suspects were working in construction firms.

“Considering the real estate boom in Pune we suspect a major flow of intruders from Bangladesh into the city. Initially the intruders come for work at construction sites, hotels and kiosks but later many of them get involved in fake currency rackets and flesh trade, money made from which is used by the terrorist organisations,” said an intelligence agency official. Now the fear is that terrorist outfits may use some of these intruders for spying and planning mass destruction activities.

Raghunath Khaire, Deputy Commissioner of Police (special branch), Pune said that his team is gathering intelligence about the intruders and the information about those who are arrested is being passed on to the Border Security Force. “We had repeatedly appealed the citizens to inform the police about the tenants who are new in the area. But the response has been poor,” he said.

A Bangladeshi intruder who was recently arrested told The Indian Express that it needs a mere Rs 3,000 for crossing the border and come to Pune.

Badal alias Thandu Himayat Shaikh (25) of Nodail district in Bangladesh and four more intruders including a woman were arrested by arrested by the Faraskhana police on June 16 at a brothel in Budhwar Peth with two minor girls, also from Bangladesh.

“We paid a bribe of Rs 1,400 per head to a Bangladeshi agent and Rs 900 to the security personnel on the Indo- Bangladesh border in West Bengal. I had come to Pune two years back with a group of labourers in Kolkata and worked on a construction site of a private company in Ghorpadi (a defence area),” he said.

Hemant Karkare, chief of state ATS said that the counterfeit currency racket that was earlier operated from Pakistan, has now shifted to Bangladesh for various reasons. “Pune is a city with huge floating population, educational facilities and increasing job opportunities. So, the existence of terrorist outfits here cannot be ruled out. And that is the reason we have an ATS unit in Pune,” he said.

Meanwhile, police sources said that counterfeit notes worth Rs 25 lakh have been seized in Pune and Mumbai in the last few months and the roots have been traced to Bangladesh.

Corroborating this, an intelligence agency officer said, “Cities like Pune, where banking and trade is flourishing, is certainly on their list.”

Terror and the city
1986:Retired Army General Arun Kumar Vaidya assassinated in Pune

2002:Three city youth with suspected LeT links nabbed for Mulund blasts
2006:Sohail Shaikh of Pune, a suspected SIMI activist, arrested by the ATS in connected with 7/11 blasts
2007:ISI agent Vishalkumar Upadhaya of Jharkhand, an engineering student in a city college arrested
2008:Ex-jawan Shailesh Jadhav of Satara arrested in Pune for his alleged links with ISI
2008:Pak spy Desai first arrested in 1999 held at Kolkatta after fleeing from Pune with a list of about 77 Yerwada jail inmates he was considering as potential ISI recruits

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