Pakistan's ISI keeps a very close watch on the anti national activities that take place in India. It is ready to support any cause as long as it is anti-India. It has supported groups such as the Indian Mujahideen, Students Islamic Movement of India and even the naxalites.
The Pune police which revealed a plot to assassinate Narendra Modi by the naxalites would also now closely study the possible link this incident could have with the ISI. The naxalites had said that they would need Rs 8 crore for this plot to procure arms and only groups such as the ISI can move such large amounts without being detected.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that they do not rule out the possibility of the ISI asking the Kashmir separatists to move the money to the naxalites. The separatists had been told in 2010 to woo the naxalites.
The ISI-naxal nexus:
On October 18 2012, the then Director General of Police in West Bengal, Naparajit Mukherjee had stated that there is a growing nexus between the naxals and the ISI sponsored terrorist groups. He further stated that the nexus needs to be considered with all seriousness and it could spearhead into a major problem.
Naxalites and their frontal groups have been cozying up to ISI sponsored groups since 2009. It was the financial and the weapons crunch being faced by the naxalites which led them to exploring a nexus with the ISI.
For the ISI the naxalites were the best bet to promote home grown terror. In the year 2009, the ISI realised that the naxals were facing a financial crunch. The naxals had become desperate. While they were hesitant at first, they bit the bait when large chunks of money and arms were offered to them.
The ISI which is well networked in Dubai used some Indians to get in touch with the naxals. When the Intelligence Bureau tipped off the police about this nexus, there was an arrest made in Karnataka. The person who was arrested went by the name Altaf and he revealed for the first time that he was trying to establish a link between the underworld in Dubai and the naxals. Moreover he was instructed to hand over Rs 25 lakh to a naxal sympathiser who in turn was supposed to strike a deal between the ISI and the naxals.
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba-SIMI link:
The next move by the ISI was to sent an operative by the name Umer Madani to talk with the naxals. Madani a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative active in Kashmir. Madani who was arrested told the police that he was asked by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to pass on money to the naxals.
His questioning led to the police finding a person called Yusuf Salim. The police learnt that Salim who also hailed from Kashmir had held talks with the naxals. With several Lashkar-e-Tayiba operatives being arrested, the ISI then roped in the Students Islamic Movement of India to carry forward the talks with the naxals.
Cadres of the SIMI were told to relocate to naxal infested areas. The talks between the SIMI and the naxalites was successful. The police at first did not realise how the naxals continued to get arms and finances despite a massive crackdown.
Later on it was found that the routes that the SIMI had set up were being used by the naxals to source arms and ammunition. Intelligence Bureau officials say that the close ties between ISI sponsored groups and the naxal has been a danger since the past seven years now.
When the separatists were roped in:
In 2010, the IB picked up chatter between an ISI officer and the Kashmiri separatists. The ISI officer is heard saying, " make inroads into the naxal network. It will help in our anti-India strategy.
The ISI as part of its strategy wanted to penetrate into the Indian security network. It felt that it was easier to do so as the naxalites already had an established network in India.
One could re-visit the investigation files of 2008. There was some naxalite movement reported in R S Pura in 2008. It was found that the naxalites were trying to get in touch with students at the Jammu university. This was being done at the behest of Kashmiri separatist Masarat Alam, the investigation also found.
Another link surfaced when the separatists circulated a pamphlet in 2008 calling for a strike in the Valley. The pamphlet was prepared by an overground naxalite worker. Further investigations revealed that the the pamphlet circulated by naxal leader Kishenji and Masarat Alam bore the same font and were printed at the same press.
The ISI had also roped in members of the Dawood gang to woo naxalites. This operation was however foiled by the police in 2010 itself when six persons were arrested in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. These men were tasked with establishing local contacts so that they could get in touch with the naxalites and offer funding.