The investigators who are looking into the case said on Monday that two Haryana imams arrested last month for their suspected links to Lashkar-e-Toiba, and another LeT operative, had allegedly visited relief camps of victims of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots and sought to recruit men, says an Indian Express report.
The men living in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, who were allegedly approached by the LeT men, refused to yield to their offers, instead informed the Delhi police. On Monday, their statements were recorded under section 164 CrPC at the Patiala House court. The sealed statements are now admissible as evidence in court.
Two imams and a LeT man allegedly made numerous visits to the camps
Rahul Gandhi had at a rally in Indore in October last year claimed that an intelligence officer had told him that Pakistan's ISI was trying to recruit disgruntled youths at Muzaffarnagar riot relief camps. His comment had triggered a huge controversy and Rahul was asked to apologise and the election commission had asked Rahul for an explanation.
If the witnesses are to be believe, two imams from Mewat - Hafeez Rashidi and Shahid - allegedly made numerous visits along with a senior LeT operative, to the camps. They allegedly tried to radicalise the victims by encouraging them to be loyal to their religion and join hands with the Lashkar operatives. Also, they were promised a good lifestyle and money for their families.
Reportedly, the LeT men had approached diplaced people living near the camps too. However, they have not come forward to depose.
"Thousands of villagers in Muzaffarnagar have been displaced, their return has been politicised, people are living under extreme conditions. This is a perfect situation for these operatives to exploit, to induct vulnerable youth in their module. We are hopeful some more victims will come forward to give their statement," a source said.
Police have arrested the two imams fom their houses in Choti Mewli, Mewat. They are suspected to be linked to top Lashkar operative Javed Baluchi. They, allegedly told investigators that Baluchi had about eight months back entrusted them to recruit youths from Mewat and other vulnerable areas.
A few weeks after the Jat-Muslim riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar in September, the imams were ordered to visit the place and identify prospective field operatives.