Guwahati under ISIS Threat ???
Terror threats have always been there in Guwahati in particular and Assam as a whole, but recently, the jihadi militancy threat has again challenged the state cops to reiterate their efficiency. After the terror attacks in upmarket Dhaka, India’s intelligence agencies are working overtime to ensure that international terror outfits like ISIS are not able to set up any bases in Assam and also across India. Panic also struck the state when an IS video was misinterpreted by many and the Assam Police had to later scrutinize the video and clarify a word that sounded like “Assam.” But is there any existence of jihadis in Assam and especially Guwahati or is it just a rumour which has caught the people’s imagination? How prepared is the police if there are any jihadis at all?
IS video and the misinterpretation
Assam police said that their attention was drawn to a news item shown on AV media of a supposed ISIS video where the word “Assam” was reportedly mentioned. The police said that they carefully analyzed the video and it appeared that the word used is “Al-Sham” and not Assam. “Al-Sham” refers to a large area in the vicinity of Syria which includes a region in eastern Mediterranean covering Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. The police also said that in the view of the prevailing situation in neighbouring countries the Assam Police is taking all preventive and precautionary measures for dealing firmly with any emergency situation. While the video was misinterpreted, there have been media reports that some jihadis have entered Assam. G Plus explores the facts behind the information.
Existence of jihadis in Assam
The DGP of Assam Police, Mukesh Sahay said that there is no verified information about jihadis in Assam and the police is working hand in hand with all security agencies so that no untoward incidents take place in the state. Sahay asserted that no one should panic due to such unverified information and all the security agencies meanwhile have been alerted. A highly placed source in the police talking to G Plus said that people should not panic as there is no evidence of any jihadi footprint in Assam. But the source also said that there was some unverified information that some jihadi elements were seen in the Bangladesh-Meghalaya border not very far from Tura. Some elements returned to Bangladesh and some came over to Assam. The source clarified that police has to work according to information received from all sections like media, security agencies and other sources. There was some information about such an entry but later it was found that the information was not verified. Assam Police has expressed confidence that terrorist organizations like ISIS cannot set up any kind of base in the state. The source however said that there might be some presence of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) members in the state and their activities are somewhat controlled with the many arrests that have been made. The source said that recently security forces detained four persons from Raumary Pathar village in lower Assam’s Barpeta District for alleged links with the banned JMB. The four, identified as Johuruddin Ali, his brother Kasimuddin Ali, Akram Ali and his brother Mojibur Ali were detained for alleged links with wanted JMB militant Sahidul Islam - an accused in the 2014 Burdwan blast in West Bengal. The four are Sahidul’s relatives who travelled to madrassas in Bengal where young men were indoctrinated and given arms training. The four are being interrogated, said the source. Sahidul also hails from the same area of Barpeta district and is currently on the run.
JMB module bust
Till date after the Burdwan blast Assam Police have arrested 48 persons who were directly or indirectly related with the JMB. Actually the arrest of Sahanur Alom, a JMB militant who is a key accused in the October 2 blast in West Bengal’s Burdwan district, disintegrated all JMB modules in Assam. Sahanur Alom was arrested by the state police’s Special Operation Unit from Larkuchi Village under the Mukalmua Police Station in Nalbari District. Alom had been absconding from his house in Barpeta District’s Chatla village since October 2014. Alom’s name had cropped up several times during the NIA’s investigation of the Burdwan case and they had even netted his wife, Sujna for her alleged involvement in the case. Sahanur Alom is a trained cadre of the JMB and he was involved directly with the Burdwan blast. The police have records of him visiting Burdwan and meeting some of the top leaders. Alom is a good motivator and that is why his arrest was important. Initially it was thought that Alom was the chief of the JMB base in Assam. But according to highly placed sources in the police, the initial interrogation revealed that Alom was third in the hierarchy in Assam, and there are two more leaders, Jahidul and Sahidul, who have been absconding for a long time now. The recent arrests were made to nab these two and the process is on. The source said that the motivators are considered more dangerous than the operational cadres as they can motivate anyone to join their group. Alom was known as a very good motivator and according to police he was not that efficient in handling firearms. Alom is also known as Iliyas in JMB but he is commonly known as doctor, as he had some training in para-medicine and used to work as a quack dentist in his village. Alom had managed to escape from the Assam Police and the NIA on a number of occasions in Assam, Meghalaya and along the Indo-Bangla border. His wife was also arrested from the ISBT in Guwahati. As Sahanur is a known motivator, it is easy for him to motivate and recruit people from riot affected areas in Assam and set up bases after which they can easily create a module. Similarly, the arrest of Jahidul and Sahidul is also important to destroy all JMB modules in Assam as they are also very good motivators. The source again asserted that ISIS existence in Assam is not yet verified.
Major terror attacks in India
12 March 1993 – Mumbai serial blasts
14 February 1998 – 58 killed, 200 injured in 12 bomb attacks in Coimbatore
22 December 2000 – Terror attack at Red Fort
1 October 2001 - Terror attack at Jammu & Kashmir legislative assembly
13 December 2001 – Attack on Parliament of India
22 January 2002 – Attack on American cultural centre, Kolkata
30 March 2002 – Terror attack at Raghunath Temple
14 May 2002 – Attack on a tourist bus in Jammu & Kashmir
13 July 2002 – 27 killed in a Jammu & Kashmir terror attack
24 September 2002 – Akshardham Temple attack
5 July 2005 – Attack on Ayodhya Ram Temple
7 March 2006 – Terror attack in Varanasi
30 April 2006 – Doda massacre in Jammu & Kashmir
11 July 2006 – Mumbai train bombings
13 May 2007 – Jaipur bombings
13 September 2008 – Delhi serial blasts
26 November 2008 – Mumbai terror attack
7 December 2010 – Varanasi bombing
7 September 2011 – Delhi bombings
21 February 2013 – Hyderabad blasts
7 July 2013 – multiple blasts at Bodh Gaya
27 July 2015 – Gurdaspur attack
2 January 2016 – Pathankot Air Base attack
Are there any jihadis in Guwahati?
Recently, a resident of Lakhtokia dialled 100 and said that he had seen three jihadis conversing that they live in Dhirenpara while boarding an auto which they hired for Uzan Bazar. The city police acknowledged the alertness of the concerned citizen but later it was found that the information was not correct. Similarly, after all the news of ISIS presence had created panic in the city, it is now seen that people have started judging others and it somehow is creating a racial and communal discrimination which should not happen. There is no verified information about presence of jihadis in Guwahati but according to sources in the police there are some areas in Guwahati which are under surveillance where jihadi cadres might have influenced some people to join them. Interestingly, the areas in the proximity of Kotabari, adjacent to ISBT are reporting many theft and burglary cases. According to people staying in the Kotabari area, many illegal migrants from Bangladesh have already settled down there and they claim to be from places like Dhubri, Boko and Barpeta. Recently, a group has been observed to be roaming around in the areas near Kotabari killing all the stray dogs there with poisonous biscuits. The local people of these areas have been alerted by the police to form guard squads at nights to make sure that no burglary or theft cases take place there. Also, the migrants staying in Guwahati are mainly poor and do labour work and might be vulnerable to getting lured and influenced by the jihadi motivators. So, there might be a relation between the burglary cases taking place there and some jihadi terror module which the cadres may be working on. For any module to be operational, money is the most vital requirement.
Alom and his friends are allegedly responsible for setting up modules for the JMB in Assam. However the bigger allegation against them is that they had moved money between Assam and Burdwan to fund the operations of the JMB. So there might be some motivators in the city and the public should be informed not to get motivated. Meanwhile in such a serious situation the police claim to be ready. But in a city like Guwahati tenant verification is still not a mandate and this raises a big question on police preparedness.
After the terror attack in Dhaka Assam police is on high alert
Unverified information suggest Jihadis entered Assam recently
Assam Police asks people not to panic
Police says all security agencies are on high alert
48 arrested till date after Burdwan blasts
Two JMB leaders still absconding
ISIS footprint yet to be identified in Assam
Guwahatian calls up 100 informing spotting of jihadis in Lakhtokia
Police acknowledges the citizen’s sense of responsibility but the information was found incorrect
Panic in Guwahati over misinterpreted IS video
Police analyzes the video and finds Assam not a target