If it is as the police say it is, this would rank as one of the most thrilling pre-emptive terror arrests. The central crime branch of Bangalore police last week arrested 18 young men—among them a journalist, a junior research fellow at DRDO and doctors—and claims, in its press release dated September 1, that they were out to “execute target killings of some prominent political leaders (MPs/MLAs), leading journalists and important leaders of Hindu organisations in the state” on instruction from their Saudi Arabia-based handler. These men, the police said, were linked to the LeT and the HuJI. Dayananda, the joint commissioner heading the investigations, was moved to hyperbole: “Timely police action has averted a major catastrophe.”
The purported targets are pro-Hindutva journalists Vishweshwar Bhat, editor-in-chief of Suvarna News (a TV channel) and Kannada Prabha (a daily); Prathap Simha, a columnist with Kannada Prabha; Vijaya Sankeshwara, an MLC and owner of the Vijayavani newspaper; Prahlad Joshi, a BJP MP; Raja Singh and Sahadev Yadav, Hyderabad-based corporators of the TDP and the BJP respectively. All of them are known to hold strong anti-minority views.
The module reportedly came under surveillance when the IB detected unusual electronic chatter while monitoring the internet during the recent exodus of Northeasterners from Hyderabad and Bangalore. Andhra police is reported to have monitored as many as 11 of the accused before alerting Karnataka police. As the probe expanded from Karnataka to Maharashtra and Andhra, more members of the same group were arrested.
However, the dots don’t seem to connect. B. Raman, former chief of raw, questions the quality of evidence. “Based on media reports, I feel there’s no foolproof evidence to establish that they are terrorists. From the kind of recoveries, I feel at best they are preparing for a criminal act out of anger or whatever other reason.” Meanwhile, Ata-ur-Rehman Siddiqui, brother of Mati-ur-Rahman Siddiqui, the journalist who has been arrested, says, “If my brother is guilty, he should be punished. But if the cops have arrested the wrong person, they should not wait for the courts to acquit him.”
Right now, there’s no convincing link between the arrests and the LeT or HuJI. The only commonality that emerges is Hubli: both the accused and the purported targets have connections to the town. While Joshi and Ganu Jartakar, a Bajrang Dal functionary and another target, are Hubli-based politicians, Bhat and Simha had both once worked for Hubli-based newspaper baron Sankeshwara’s Vijay Karnataka.
With the state going to elections in May next year, and the BJP government’s not too encouraging record with minorities of all hues, these arrests and the claim of a major terror plot have wider ramifications. “At one level, the minorities are feeling alienated because there is a sense that under the BJP government, certain groups have felt emboldened and nothing is being done to check them,” says political analyst Sandeep Shastri. “As a result, we are seeing a new trend—of regionally well-established individuals on the hit list of angry individuals.”
Jyotiprakash Mirji, police commissioner of Bangalore, maintains his men have indeed turned up a major plot. He says, “The accused are intelligent and hard to crack. They driven by extremist ideologies.” Sources say they were inspired by Inspire, Al Qaeda’s online magazine. According to the FIR, one Zakir alias Ustad, who is still absconding, used to conduct religious classes at which two suspects—Shoaib Mirza, an MCA student, and Abdul Hakim Jamadar, an accountant—were drawn into the plot and asked to target Bhat and Simha. Zakir also put Ganu Jartarkar on the hit list. As for Siddiqui, a reporter with Deccan Herald, investigators say he used to spend long hours in office, reading radical material on jehadi sites. He would also take long leave but never spend time with his family. His seized computer, they say, has electronic clues to exchanges with the other co-accused as well as a Saudi Arabia-based handler.
But as the cops go about the mammoth task of gathering evidence, material and circumstantial, the real challenge would be to keep it alive through the rigorous legal process and make it stand good in court. As Raman puts it, “After an act of terrorism or crime, a lot of evidence can be gathered and placed before court—here, we have pre-emptive arrests. All the more tougher to prove what the police say the accused were up to.”
Apropos It Was Not, Or Maybe It Was (Sep 17), it may be, or may not be. I fully agree with your report: who the real terrorists are, we’ll be able to tell only after the court decides on actual evidence. But the media seems to decide, quite often, on its own. When Dr Hanif was arrested in Australia as a terror suspect, some Karnataka dailies painted him as a terrorist even though there were Australian papers standing by him. When Hindutva terrorists carried out blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer and other places, some newspapers were already theorising on why Muslim groups could have struck at Muslim places of worship.
Mohammad Shabeer (editor, Prasthutha), Mangalore
Your report Did Someone Say Dirty Tricks? gives a ‘persecution of Muslims’ angle to what must be expected from an unprofessional police force that’s under the netas’ thumb.
Shubhang Pandya, Ahmedabad
Rather than anti-Muslim bias, it’s a case of a flawed legal-investigative system.
A. Kartikay, Chicago, US
The article you referenced is cut short. No mention of actual missteps. Moreover, that operation is a sting. A sting, even with missteps, was done to people who seem to have bought in.
Just how does this article compares to this one? A sting, even with some missteps ( which were caught on camera by the way as opposed to presumptions this author makes by simply speaking to the suspects' parents) was still a valid sting, even with entrapment and all.
Now, don't go saying you are not trying to compare the two articles. You know what you were doing when you made that first comment.
>>> The have been many terror arrests in the US. When have you seen reputed publications resorting to publishing unsubstantiated articles barely a week later, repudiating their lawmen
This was barely a week later
Amazing to see the hate that Indians have for each other on the message boards. Juvenile & tragic.
I suggested Outlook is rather hasty in its doubting of law and order officials, and that in the US, the reputed publications would take their time before doubting their own.
You took that in the wrong sense, and chose to argue that NYT and the like do doubt their own. I have not suggested they *never* doubt their lawmen, have I?
The have been many terror arrests in the US. When have you seen reputed publications resorting to publishing unsubstantiated articles barely a week later, repudiating their lawmen? Can you reference any such articles?
Sorry if I sounded harsh when I said 'get a grip'.
>> so if I have ever jumped to conclusion, or extrapolated some thing that was not written , then I am clearly in the wrong and i apologise..
There's certainly no need for that. I for one, believe that it's perfectly legitimate to come to inferences on the non-written word too.May not always be correct, but what is not spoken can also be as important as what is spoken.
>> Though I do not agree with you on many things you do make valid arguments
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT