Guwahati: Following the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) arrests in the state, efforts have gained ground to set up an Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) on the lines of the ones in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other places.
According to Pallab Bhattacharya the Additional Director General of Police Special Branch, ‘The emergence of the Hizbul Mujahideen module in Assam may be a one-off case, but we have sought the formation of an ATS in Assam in order to keep a close eye as these groups operate very surreptitiously and secretively because of the unique nature of the Assamese social fabric’.
He also added that ‘It is a unique Islamic culture in Assam due to which even the few radicalised elements tread very carefully lest they be exposed by members of their own community. But radical thoughts have increasingly been gaining ground and that is why there is an urgent need to tackle it and nip it in the bud’.
HM is the largest militant outfit in Jammu and Kashmir waging an armed struggle seeking the severance of Kashmir from India although government reports say the outfit is fighting a growing crisis of shortage of weapons and finances.
It is believed that of the about 210 hardcore militants active in Kashmir Valley now, about 126 belong to the Hizbul. After Jammu and Kashmir, Assam has the largest population of Muslims among the Indian states. Assamese Muslims adhere to a Sufi form of Islam cherished and propagated by 17th-century poet and spiritual leader Azaan Faqir.
The idea behind setting up the ATS would ostensibly be to identify and isolate the radical elements. While the state’s security forces have handled the insurgency led by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and other insurgent outfits in an effective manner, a different approach needs to be organised to combat jihadi modules. At the same time, it has to be admitted that situation in certain parts of the state is indeed getting more fertile to breed radical Islamist ideologies which pave the way for setting up of jihadi outfits.
Reports indicate that Kashmiri youths had frequently visited Hojai couple of months back, reports Assam Tribune on September 24. They took shelter in nearby villages and also took away many youths, including girls, to Jammu and Kashmir. In connection with the alleged abduction of local youths by Kashmiri youths, a case was registered. According to the sources, the Kashmiri youths during their trip to Hojai even met various persons of the greater Hojai areas and tried to lure the young and energetic youths of the areas. Sources added further that the unidentified Kashmiri youths frequently met some Hojai-based youths led by one Bakul alias Anuwar Hussain. Bakul even met a group of Kashmiri youths one-and-half-month ago in Hojai. The sources stated that Bakul was still under judicial custody for a criminal case. (SATP Inputs)