New Delhi: It may be a coincidence. But 12 of the 13 people arrested recently for links with terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) are from Darbhanga in Bihar.
Asadullah Rehman alias Dilkash, Kafeel Ahmed, Talha Abdali alias Israr, Mohammed Tarique Anjuman, Haroon Rashid Naik, Naqi Ahmed Vasi Ahmed Sheikh, Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaque Sheikh, Mohammed Qatil Siddiqui, Gohar Aziz Khumani, Mohammed Adil, Mohammed Irshad, Gayur Ahmed Jamali and Aftab Alam alias Farooq -- all were caught in the past six months from various places in India for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks.
Of the 13, six are in Delhi`s Tihar Jail, four in a Bangalore prison and three in Mumbai. Barring Mohammed Adil, a Pakistani from Karachi, the rest are from Darbhanga.
Why Darbhanga? Different experts give different reasons.
Mumbai Police`s Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria said it was the elusive member of IM, Ahmed Siddi Bappa alias Yasin Bhatkal, who chose the Bihar district to indoctrinate young men.
Former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval has another theory.
"IM members target densely populated Muslim areas. With help from conservative people, they brainwash others," Doval said.
"Darbhanga has been targeted as a part of their new module since 2001 when SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) was banned."
The radical SIMI was the forerunner of IM, which has been blamed for a string of terror attacks across India.
Arun Bhagat, formerly of the Research and Analysis Wing, said a terrorist group works like a queen bee.
"After a systematic geographical search of a particular Muslim- dominated area, outfits like IM start a nucleus, recruiting new members. That is the reason so many are from Darbhanga," Bhagat said.
Darbhanga, situated 132 km from Patna, has a population of 3.2 million according to the 2001 census. As per the 1991 census, its Muslim population is 555,429.
New Delhi-based expert on terrorism Ajai Sahni said it did not necessarily mean that the IM was targeting only Darbhanga to look for new members.
"Once a member belonging to another state is caught, the next module might come to light," said Sahni.
Activists of Indian Mujahideen, which has declared war on the Indian state, have indeed been operating in various parts of India. These include Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Uttar Pradesh.
The Indian government outlawed the Indian Mujahideen in June 2010. The US has designated it a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.