Date: 4/27/2002


Alarming growth of Islamic militant groups in northeast India

Kishalay Bhattacharjee

Saturday, April 27, 2002 (Guwahati): s+in+northeast+&id=24446

The recent surrender of 11 Harkat-ul-Mujahideen terrorists in Guwahati and their confession that they were planning to attack Home Minister L K Advani has brought to light the alarming growth of Islamic militant groups in the northeast. This trend has sent alarm bells ringing in a region where insurgency has already wrecked havoc for the past few decades.

Azmal Haque, one of the members of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, who surrendered in Guwahati, claims that his group had been sent to Assam via Bangladesh with a specific order of targeting Union Home Minister L K Advani along with other VIPs.

"From Dhubri in Assam we went to Narayanpur in Bangladesh, took the Biman Bangladesh from Dacca to Karachi and to Batrasi in PoK where we were trained. For further training we were taken to an undisclosed destination eight hours from Rawalpindi. Then we were told to go back and wait for further instructions, to arrange attacks on VIPs and anti-Muslim organizations," informed Haque.

The Harkat-ul-Mujahideen has reportedly been active in Assam for over 15 years and now its cadres have joined the Jaish-e-Mohammed. The first report on ISI activities was submitted to the state government in 1994 and in August 1999 Assam police arrested four ISI agents with 30 kg of RDX. Since 2001, 39 HuM and JeM terrorists have either surrendered or been arrested.

Today, there are said to be more than a dozen terrorist groups operating in Assam. "The Government of India is concerned about the increasing activities of the ISI in northeast India including Assam," said Khagen Sharma, IGP Special Branch, Assam Police.

According to the police, these outfits are actively engaged in extortion of money, recruitment of cadres and training in handling arms and explosives.

The gravity of northeast's Islamic militancy has always been underplayed. Though these outfits are yet to commit any significant offence, they are accused of providing logistical and tactical support to the militant groups. Given the fact that these militant groups get trained in Pakistan and operate from Bangladesh, theories of ISI and BGFI fishing in troubled waters of northeast may not after all be untrue. ------------------------------------------------------------------------