Have sleeper cells in Uttar Pradesh woken up ?
By Namita Bajpai | Express News Service | Published: 16th July 2017 08:51 AM |
LUCKNOW: Recovery of Petnaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN) from the UP Assembly exposed the terror threat to lawmakers’ life on one hand while pushing probe agencies to expand the ambit of investigation to sleeper cells allegedly active in the state, linked with various terror outfits like Indian Mujadhideen, LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen on the other.
It may be recalled that in March this year, UP ATS had eliminated an allegedly self-radicalised ISIS Khurasan’s sleeping module Saifullah in an 11-hour long encounter in old city area. His role was established in the low intensity blast in Bhopal bound Ujjain Express in Madhya Pradesh. The encounter was followed by a few arrests of other associated sleeper cells from Kanpur and Rae Bareli by ATS sleuths establishing the presence of such indoctrinated modules active in UP, of which intelligence agencies were clueless till then.
While the government is screaming a terror plot post the PETN recovery in the Assembly, investigators and intelligence personnel are tracing suspicious movements of modules already under the scanner.
The activity of sleeping modules in UP had surfaced in the Rampur CRPF camp attack in 2008 and the Bijnor blast in 2014. The links of the perpetrators of the attacks were later traced to banned terror outfits active in the country.
“Recovery of PETN is a clear hint of the involvement of terror in the episode,” claimed Inspector General (IG) Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) Aseem Arun, who is heading the probe.
As most terror attacks in the state, including explosions at the Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi court premises in 2007, blast in the Varanasi Sankatmochan temple in 2006 and Shramjeevi Express near Jaunpur in 2005, were linkedto different terror outfits, carried out by sleeping modules.
In 2008, the CRPF camp was attacked by three Lashkar sleeper cells — Suhail and Arshad Ali alias Baba, both residents of UP, and Fayheem, a Pakistani national claiming 8 jawans. All three were later arrested.
Apart from regular terror alerts, the central intelligence agencies are believed to have shared with UP cops intercepts of terror groups trying to activate sleeper cells in various cities .
According to sources, the intercepts also had details of possible attacks in communally-sensitive locations across the state, including Kashi Vishwanath temple and the disputed Ram temple in Ayodhya.