VIJAYAWADA: Why were the slain SIMI operatives - Aslam Ayub and Md Aizazuddin alias Bilal - bound for Vijayawada?
This question is haunting the police ever since it was found that they had purchased tickets for Vijayawada after boarding a Gudivada-bound bus at Chaderghat in Hyderabad on April 2. They could not reach their destination with the Telangana police throwing a spanner in their designs by killing them in an encounter at Janakipuram in Nalgonda district.
“Since the two operatives had tickets for Vijayawada, we believe they had some work here. We do not know what that work was. They might have even been planning to switch to another bus or take a train to go somewhere from here since changing buses or modes of transport would make it difficult for the police to keep tabs on them,” a senior police officer said.
As SIMI operatives are known to resort to bank robberies to fund their organisation, it is possible that they might have planned a similar operation or something more insidious. Otherwise there was no reason for them to move around in Telangana and Andhra after their escape from prison in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh in October 2013.
As Vijayawada is set to emerge as the new capital of Andhra Pradesh and as several high value transactions are taking place, the city has been attracting the good, bad and the ugly alike. The SIMI too may have been interested in implementing its agenda in the city - like creating terror, or using it as a shelter zone with the help of sleeper cells, or doing something to make big money by resorting to robberies and dacoities, the police say.
For a quite a long time, Vijayawada had remained a very peaceful city after recovering from the cataclysms of gang wars between Ranga and Nehru supporters prior to 1989. Afterwards, development took centre stage and old animosities receded. People forgot the violent past of the city.
Now with SIMI apparently setting eyes on Vijayawada, a chill has crawled up the spine of the police who are keen on projecting a feel good image of the city. In fact the police department was busy scripting police commissionerate for the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) area to serve the requirements of the future capital of the city.
With reports emanating from Hyderabad that it was three and not two SIMI operatives who were on their way to Vijayawada, but only two were gunned down, there is a question as to where the third has holed up. As Tada and some parts in Nellore district have a history of harbouring SIMI operatives who pulled off an operation of setting off explosives at Chennai Railway station in May last year, the likely areas in Nellore district too are understood to have been kept under watch.
As the threat of SIMI appears to be quite alive, the Vijayawada police are not taking any chances. They have already begun inquiring with SIMI sympathisers about SIMI’s motives and the extent of its presence or that of the sleeper cells.
The police are also going through the video footage for the last one week at RTC bus station and the Railway station for movement of people rousing suspicion. This apart, the police have told the hoteliers to upload the details of those who check into their hotels into a police site for them to know who is checking in and who is checking out in the wake of pronounced activity of the SIMI operatives in the neighbouring state.
“We are taking several steps. We have no specific inputs that the SIMI is operating out of Vijayawada. Vijayawada is a safe and peaceful city. So far nothing has happened and there were no terror strikes here. Nevertheless, we are doing our job of making the city safe for the residents,” a senior police official told Express.