BALASORE: The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operatives spent eight months in Nangamahala area in Bhadrak district, posing as small traders, before shifting to Rourkela. They had introduced the 60-year-old woman Nazma Biwi, mother of one of the four operatives, as a cook. The operatives were always reluctant to develop closeness with locals.
A three-member team of anti-terror squad from Madhya Pradesh and Special Task Force (STF) team of Odisha Police came across these facts after they raided the Bhadrak hideout and interrogated the house owner, Tajmul Hussain Khan alias Munu Khan and his neighbours.
Along with two arrested SIMI operatives, Zakir Hussain and Md Saleq, the STF team, led by Crime Branch Special DG BK Sharma and IG Arun Bothra, arrived at Nangamahala on Friday.
After escaping from Khandwa District Jail in Madhya Pradesh in 2013 by scaling a 14-ft high wall, the four - Sk Mehboob, Amzad Khan, Zakir Hussain and Md Saleq - had come to Odisha. Nazma accompanied them after Mehboob, her son, was injured in an accidental explosion at Bijnaur while making bombs. Before landing in Bhadrak, they had stayed at Sunapalli in Sambalpur for some months.
Sources said they had come here in June last year and took the house of Munu, a cattle trader, on rent for `1,400 per month. While the house was locked for the last one month, they returned a week ago to leave again with some valuables.
“They posed as timber and fertiliser traders and the woman as cook. They used to leave the house in the morning and return home in the night while the woman remained alone in the house. They never interacted with anyone and never moved in groups. The four used to come to the market place one after another,” said a local, requesting anonymity.
Bhadrak police detained Munu for questioning. Sources said he often visited West Bengal. The stay of SIMI operatives in Bhadrak assumes significance as the district houses a test facility of DRDO and the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur is just 85 km away.