Bengaluru, Jan 9: Three arrests and once again a connection with Bhatkal, the coastal town of Karnataka. A place once known for its exquisite biriyani has earned the terror tag and spare a thought for many innocent residents of the area who say thanks to some black sheep everyone is being classified as a terrorist here.
Yesterday the Bengaluru police in a coordinated operation between the NIA and the Intelligence Bureau picked up three persons, one from Cox Town, Bengaluru and two from Bhatkal. Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru city M N Reddi informed that all three were residents of Bhatkal.
The plot on hand:
Syed Ismail Afaq (34), Saddam Hussein (35) and Abdus Subur a 24 year old MBA student were arrested and in their possession the police claim was a huge cache of explosive devices.
Reddi explained that they were reporting to a handler outside the country. Sources say that the handler is Sultan Armar also a resident of Bhatkal is a recruiter for the Ansar-ul-Tawhid, an outfit comprising the ISIS, Indian Mujahideen and the Tehrik-e-Taliban.
From Bhatkal to Afghanistan:
Bhatkal, which has been home to the likes of Riyaz, Iqbal and Yasin Bhatkal had witnessed a disturbing incident recently. This is the case of Anwar Bhatkal who was killed while fighting in Afghanistan.
Recruited by Sultan, Anwar Bhatkal who goes by the name Anwar Beli was termed as a martyr on the social media site of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid. Anwar is said to be distantly related to Riyaz Bhatkal currently in Karachi and joined the ranks in 2008.
The 38 year old Anwar worked as a cab driver in Dubai and is said to have been roped into the Indian Mujahideen first before being sent to Afghanistan in 2013 under the banner of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid. He was recruited by Armar according to the NIA.
His family members tell OneIndia that he mysterious disappeared and stopped calling. They also say that he was regularly in touch with them until 2013. They also say that they have no official confirmation of his death.
Birth of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid:
The Indian Mujahideen since the past two years has made several noises about breaking away from the ISI, which according to them was waging a selective battle. The battle is not for Islam, but for their political motive is what Yasin Bhatkal had said in custody.
The IM according to a dossier pieced together by the NIA suggests that there was an urge among the cadres of the IM to fight in Afghanistan against the West. However, the ISI had not approved of the same which forced the likes of Yasin and also Armar to break away.
After the rise of the ISIS in Iraq and Syria and declaration of the Caliphate, Armar was attracted towards the cause. He went on to become a key figure in the outfit and was even declared as the Emir of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid.
Investigations based on the confessions of various operatives and also the chat transcripts of Armar suggest that he is undertaking a recruitment drive in a bid to send youth to Afghanistan.
Armar, according to investigators, has a set plan of sending in at least 250 youth to Afghanistan. The Intelligence Bureau says that he is likely to scout for youth in his home town of Bhatkal and hence the heat on the coastal town has been at an all time high.
It began with Riyaz Bhatkal:
Riyaz Bhatkal's name cropped up for the first time in the murder of Dr Chittaranjan. It was said that this murder led to the riots in Bhatkal and talking advantage of the same, Pakistan's ISI agents made an entry into the town.
Riyaz, along with his brother began their advent into the world of terror not for the sake of ideology but money. They were paid handsomely by the ISI according to investigators and from here began the birth of the Indian Mujahideen.
Riyaz along with his brother Iqbal were key figures in the birth of the IM. They also recruited Yasin Bhatkal who went on to lead the IM and carry out several blasts in the country.
Around 20 years back, if one wanted to buy an imported walkman or have a plate of biriyani then Bhatkal was the place to be in. A smuggling hub turned into a terror town due to the extreme communally volatile situation that prevailed over there.
The residents say that just because four to five persons from this town are believed to have joined the ranks in terror groups, it is unfair to classify Bhatkal as a terror town.
One resident points out that the attaching of Bhatkal to the surname is what has made matters worse. Riyaz's surname is Shahbandri while Yasin's is Siddibappa. Attaching the surname Bhatkal has made all our lives miserable over here, the residents say.
"It has become an IB town and at any given time there are scores of Intelligence Bureau officials looking around for people here," the residents also point out.
Its biriyani is what this place ought to be known for. We wonder why Riyaz and his men have become the star attractions of this place, say the residents, both Hindus and Muslims.