Undetected sleeper cells may be activated by militants, apprehend security agencies.
New Delhi: As the national capital is on high alert after security agencies received inputs that a couple of terrorists might plan to carry out terror strikes, including Fidayeen-type attacks in northern India, in retaliation against the abrogation of Article 370, the Delhi-NCR region has come under the scanner of the agencies as this region has been a shelter home for terrorists for years.
The Intelligence Bureau sounded alerts on Wednesday night (October 2) to the Delhi police, to the police chiefs of adjoining states, and to other security agencies. What is giving the agencies sleepless nights is that the undetected sleeper cells may be activated by the militants to target the country and its establishments ahead of the festive season.
Some members of the terrorist sleeping modules, reportedly housed in these areas, have been arrested by the security agencies but most of them are at large and are posing 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.
In 2014, two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives, Rashid and Shahid, were arrested in Mewat near Gurgaon in Haryana. Notorious terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, was arrested in connection with the kidnapping of foreign tourists from Paharganj area of Delhi in 1994 in Ghaziabad.
The three British citizens were taken to a village near Saharanpur and held captive by Sheikh’s associates. The police tracked the terrorists to Saharanpur. In the gun-battle that followed, one terrorist was killed while two were captured.
Based on the tip-off 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 for the passengers aboard the 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 1994, it was reported that the Delhi police and the Intelligence Bureau raided Ashok Nagar area after receiving tip-off from sources. Tunda had visited NCR as early as mid-June in 2013 and had managed to evade arrest till August 2013, sources said.
Earlier, 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 to DDA flats at Ghazipur in Delhi. He was running a computer centre at Gaffur Nagar in Okhla. Three days later, he was arrested on the intervening night of December 25-26.
Terrorists often get support and information from local sympathisers who play a crucial role in executing their terror plots. Terrorists prefer to stay in NCR to decide their target and for recee purposes, said a Delhi police official.