HYDERABAD:The hunt for SIMI activists, who were gunned down on Saturday after they killed two policemen at Suryapet in Nalgonda district, had been on for a while.
A highly confidential message and some photographs from the Intelligence Bureau had late last year alerted the police here about a possible terror strike by SIMI members, who had escaped from Khandwa jail in Madhya Pradesh in 2013.
Soon, police personnel in AP and Telangana were on their toes trying to track the movement of the SIMI men.
The focus, obviously, was more on Hyderabad, though routine checks were conducted in both states.
At least four SIMI operatives, including Aslam Ayub Khan and Aizazuddin who were killed in the gunfight, were initially traced to Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda districts last year itself.
But they managed to evade the police by changing their hideouts in remote areas and their looks, even as the police kept looking for only those men whose faces matched with those in the photographs.
For sometime, their presence was reported in Odisha, then in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
“Thereafter, we learnt about the movement of this module in Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda districts. But we could not nab them as our men were unable to recognise them. They had grown beards, moustaches and even long hair,” a senior police officer told Express.
They chose remote areas for temporary shelters, changed their names regularly and carried on with their business without arousing any suspicion.
Interestingly, the SIMI operatives deliberately avoided Hyderabad, which police sources attributed to increased surveillance. “When they did pass through the city, they chose not to board any bus at the main bus station to avoid getting caught in CCTV footages,” sources said.
Quoting IB inputs, the sources further said the group of SIMI operatives may have divided themselves into groups -- one to conduct recce of their targets for robberies and similar offences and the other to execute the plan.