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Jihadi footprint

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  25 Dec 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Jihadi activities in several districts in Assam are on the rise, even though Dispur has cultivated a reflex of downplaying the threat. For a state going to the polls in about four months, the very real possibility of jihadi groups trying to project force in some pockets of lower Assam and BTAD areas cannot be discounted. The Union Home ministry has reportedly identified about 1,138 km of the India-Bangladesh border as vulnerable to cross-border movement of terrorists as well as illegal migration. This long unfenced stretch is difficult enough to guard, more so in the backdrop of Sheikh Hasi government’s continuing crackdown on jihadi outfits whose members are known to be seeking refuge in India. New Delhi seems to be waking up rather late in the day to the damage done due to the tardiness in fencing and floodlighting this border, with the Home ministry even said to be mulling using drones for border surveillance. Only last week, reports emerged of intercepted phone calls between a jihadi operative in Assam and a Pakistani handler, indicating a growing linkup between jihadi groups in the NE region with Pak-based terror groups. The alleged jihadi is said to have claimed about having a team of 100 members that can strike at targets anywhere in Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai. This fits in with the pattern of Pak-sponsored jihadi operatives from Bangladesh using Assam as a corridor to fan out into India. The jihadi was also heard claiming to have trained with ULFA militants in Bhutan. In fact, sections of the Bhutan border of late has been particularly vulnerable to the movement of militants, despite the Bhutan government’s cooperation with New Delhi. The SSB director general recently said that a 35-km long, highly rugged stretch of the Indo-Bhutan border along Kokrajhar and Chirang districts will be fenced with barbed wire. Militants have been crossing over at will through this particular stretch to escape operations by security forces. Overall, security forces in Assam have been launching continuing operations to b jihadi operatives and bust their training camps and arsels in districts like Barpeta, Goalpara and the four BTAD districts. Early this month, as many as six militants of the Jamaat-ul Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB) were arrested from Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar and Goalpara districts with the prize catch being one Monirul Islam alias Burabhai, the major recruiter of a jehadi camp busted in Daukhagar by the Assam police last September. A large cache of arms and ammunition, including 10 AK-47 and two INSAS rifles was seized in that raid. Another clandestine arms factory was busted in a Barpeta char last November, found to have been set up by crimils from Bihar. NIA sleuths are known to be grilling Burabhai for his links with the Burdwan blast kingpin; about 30 suspected jihadis have been bbed this year in the State. It is obvious that a huge threat is looming in Assam in the coming months once such jihadi elements turn their attention here to create bloody mayhem. The terror campaign by outfits like the Ansar-ul-Bangla as well as the IS going on a recruitment drive to enlist fighters from poor families in Bangladesh, should serve as adequate warning here not to lay down our guard.

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