Nitish Kumar’s politics of minority appeasement couldn’t have been more pronounced. The Bihar chief minister’s silence over Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest has once again exposed his dangerous brand of vote bank politics that is apparently compromising the security of the state.
When an initially ebullient Bihar Police developed cold feet after officials of the Intelligence Bureau repeatedly requested to take Bhatkal on remand after his arrest in a joint of operation at the Indo-Nepal border, the diktat from the top was too obvious.
The Central intelligence agency underlined Bhatkal’s role in training more than 100 youths, mostly from north Bihar, as foot soldiers for the ‘Darbhanga module’—one of the several sleeper cells of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Indian proxy IM—which was involved in major terrorist strikes in the country after 2007.
“The arrest of at least 13 members of this module from Darbhanga and adjoining districts makes enough room for the state police to act under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,” said a former senior police officer.
The state BJP hit out at Nitish alleging his silence over the intelligence feat and highly successful operation in which his state’s own police played a key role.
“We fail to understand the refusal of the state police to take Bhatkal on remand that has developed a Darbhanga module by training local youths. The JD(U) government is soft-pedaling the issues related to terrorism,” said senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
The former deputy chief minister took the Bihar Police to task for being sheepish and added that under political pressure it refused to take credit for the arrest.
The Bihar Police has been known to seek publicity for even minor achievements. How it could refrain from taking credit for arrest of Bhatkal and his associate as it has been a major achievement for the country, he asked.
Modi alleged that notwithstanding ‘Bihar connection’ coming to light in several terror attacks in the country, Bhatkal and Assadullah Akhtar (who was also arrested) were not interrogated by the Bihar Police.
No wonder, the state that is sharing a porous border with Nepal is slowly turning out to be a fertile ground for home-grown terrorists. Ironically, the recent blasts in Bodh Gaya have had no effect on Nitish’s soft approach towards terrorists.
“JD(U) leaders had earlier called Ishrat Jahan as the beti (daughter) of Bihar, and may now end up calling Yasin Bhatkal as the damad (son-in-law) of Bihar (Bhatkal is married to a woman who is originally from Bihar),” Modi said.
As expected, JD(U)’s rebuttal was not late. The party’s national spokesperson K C Tyagi said: “We can’t expect such an irresponsible statement from a major Opposition party leader. Local police must have interrogated him.”
Political bickering apart, the point to ponder is: what was the state’s Intelligence doing all these years when IM was nurturing its Darbhanga module all these years in the state?
The Darbhanga module was the brainchild of Bhatkal who formed it with the help of some committed youths from Darbhanga district immediately after the bursting of Pune module in Maharashtra.
Sources said IM has tactically selected Darbhanga for developing their module owing to favourable socio-economic condition of the local people who could easily be attracted to work as cheap soldier for their militant operations. To establish close rapport with local natives and win their confidence, Bhatkal married to a Samastipur girl.
Nitish was very critical of the Central agencies for coining “Darbhanga module”. “This is highly objectionable. How can any responsible government agency describe a particular region or a community or a state as a module of terror?” he asked.
He often accused the Central intelligence agencies of working in an unconstitutional manner by not informing the state police while arresting local youths on the charges of terrorist acts.
Nitish has often objected to the arrest of members of a minority community from Bihar by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and Special Cell (equivalent to ATS) of Delhi Police without informing the state authorities. He has termed this act purely unconstitutional.
In May last year, Nitish wrote to Karnataka chief minister, expressing his displeasure over the Karnataka Police’s arrest of Kafil Akhatar who was one of the key suspects in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast case.
Nitish has been nurturing Muslim voters as his party’s key electoral constituency in the state for quite some time and trying to wean them away from political opponent Lalu Prasad. The media was reporting for quite some time Bhatkal’s presence in Darbhanga district in the guise of an ayurvedic doctor. The intelligence inputs and media reports regarding Bihar’s breeding ground of terror failed largely to motivate Nitish
government to act tough on terrorist outfits that had not only taken safe shelter in the state but also made it their operational setup too.
Now, who can deny that politicians jeopardise the national security to protect their vote bank?