KOLKATA: Close proximity to the Indo-Bangladesh border is a safe haven for Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorists attempting to sneak into the country, according to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) memo, which was sent to the West Bengal Government.
An NIA team from New Delhi will be interrogating Zahid Hossain, a close aide of IM co-founder Yasin Bhaktal, responsible for several blasts, including the German Bakery in Pune in 2010. Hossain was arrested by a Special Task Force (STF) of the city police on Wednesday, from the railway station here, when he was about to board a train to Darbhanga in Bihar. He had sneaked into the country through Bongaon on the Indo-Bangladesh border. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying a bag containing fake Indian currency, ammunition, wires,detonators, batteries, and explosives.
During interrogation, the STF realised that Hossain was a “key operative of the IM”, and he admitted to having supplied explosives to Bhatkal, smuggled in from Pakistan via Bangladesh, for `30 lakh. The alleged Bangladeshi national, 57, told his interrogators that he had met Bhatkal at a tea stall in the city and handed over eight kgof explosives, three days before the Pune blast. He also knew about the blasts carried out at Gandhi Maidan in Patna, just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public meeting.
The sleuths are now trying to establish Hossain’s connection with Hyder Ali, who was involved in the Patna blasts, and told the NIA after his arrest that he was provided shelter in Bangladesh by an explosive expert from Pakistan. Hossain had been trained in explosives by Abdul Karim Tunda, a bomb-making expert who is also in police custody.
With funds provided by Bhatkal, Hossain started an export business in Bangladesh and frequently visited Pakistan. He had also been to Saudi Arabia to meet Abu Bakar, a Pakistani ideologue with terror links.
Hossain had made several trips to the city and handed over AK 47 rifles and ammunition to many other IM operatives who had come from the other states. All these men had been trained in terror camps in Pakistan.
Hossain revealed that several IM operatives in Bangladesh were believed to have entered West Bengal, crossing the border to Nadia and North 24 Parganas districts. with weapons and explosives.
These terrorists operated through cow and gold smugglers, many of whom would take shelter at his den at Mirpur near Dhaka and received money for facilitating the entry of IM men into West Bengal.