‘Terrorists using Babughat as transit point’

Posted on November 26, 2010


Jayanta Gupta | TNN

Kolkata: Terrorists belonging to the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) and other outfits are reportedly using the bus stand at Babughat in Kolkata regularly as a transit point. The Army has now ordered transport operators using the bus stand to keep a lookout for any suspicious movement and alert security agencies, failing which they would be asked to move away. The land on which this bus stand is located belongs to the ministry of defence. A bus stand was allowed to be set up there under an arrangement with the state government.
“There are specific intelligence inputs that HuJI terrorists have travelled on buses that arrive and depart from the stand. While security agencies are maintaining vigil, transport operators have also been ordered to maintain some sort of order at the location and report any suspicious movement. At present, the bus stand is in a mess. There are no records that reveal how many vehicles actually operate from there or their destinations and originating points,” a source in the Army revealed.
Buses ply between Babughat and various locations in Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar. HuJI, which belongs to the Deobandi school of thought, is known to have several bases in Uttar Pradesh, where it receives support from organisations like SIMI. With surveillance increased along rail routes, terrorists prefer to travel by road, intelligence agencies believe. In spite of efforts by the Bangladeshi government, the HuJI continues to have bases in Bangladesh. Sleeper cells continue to operate in parts of north Bengal and the outfit’s links to terror groups in the northeast have been exposed.
Given the network, Kolkata is a crucial hub from where operatives can spread out to various parts of the country. There are also locations in the city where the terrorists continue to receive support in the form of shelter and logistics. About a year ago, the special task force of Kolkata Police arrested three Bangladeshi nationals with links to HuJI and the LeT. In April, 2009, Mufti Ibrahim, a member of the HuJI (Bangladesh) was arrested from a flat in Baguiati. Probe revealed that he was a mastermind of the grenade attack on Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina in 1999.
According to senior Kolkata Police officers, there has been some respite after the Hasina government came to power in Bangladesh but the HuJI menace is by no means over. “Bangladesh used to be a great base for the organisation till the change of government. In recent times, we may not have been able to nab terrorists in Kolkata, but there have been several indications of operatives having used the city as a conduit. Such matters have been discussed during meetings between security agencies. It is good that the Army has sounded out the transport operators in Babughat,” a senior officer said.
According to sources, the HuJI has been active in recruiting youths from districts like North and South 24-Parganas, Malda and Murshidabad for basic training in parts of Uttar Pradesh before pushing them across the border to Pakistan. While travelling, such groups use routes that would not attract attention. One such route is a breakjourney via Bihar.