31 terrorists on the loose, special team to hunt them

31 terrorists on the loose, special team to hunt them New Delhi: Planning a major crackdown on absconding terrorists, the Centre has formed special teams to nab 31 most wanted militants, including 19 Indian Mujahideen men, whose list has been circulated to all the states and Union Territories.

Official sources said these special teams will make "concerted efforts" to apprehend the absconding IM and Jam-I-yyathul Ansarul Muslimeen (JIAM) terrorists within the country and coordinate with foreign countries where they are suspected to be holed up.

The Union Home Ministry prepared a complete set of the 31 absconding Indian Mujahideen cadres and circulated it to all the states and union territories for gaining more and more information about them.

The detailed dossiers about the IM militants along with photographs have also been shared with a few Gulf countries as intelligence inputs suggested that some of them were currently based there their with Pakistani passports.

The sources said some of the foreign countries had already started helping the security agencies and begun surveillance on some suspects.

Among these 31 terrorists, eight are from Uttar Pradesh (all from Azamgarh), ten from Karnataka (three of them from Bhatkal town), six from Kerala (all from Kannur), three from Maharashtra and two each from Gujarat and Jharkhand.
Have you seen these men?
Have you seen these men?

Of these terrorists, majority were either in Pakistan or in Middle-East while around 10 are in India, the sources said.

The Home Ministry dispatched the particulars of the IM terrorists to the states and advised them to be alert and look for them as some of them could be hiding anywhere in India.

There have been regular intelligence inputs that the IM has been trying to expand its network by recruiting new members, particularly from Uttar Pradesh, and sending some of them to Pakistan for terror training.

Sources said though the IM cadres were lying low for sometime, the terror group has not desisted from launching terror attacks in the country -- the recent one being at Varanasi on Tuesday last.

The Indian Mujahideen's hand is suspected in over 10 serial blasts in Delhi and other parts of the country that claimed nearly 500 lives.

The IM, which is a shadow outfit of the banned SIMI and Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba and directly controlled by ISI, was banned by the Government in June this year.

With its addition to the terror list, the number of such outfits has gone up to 35 which includes al-Qaeda, LTTE, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen, CPI-Maoist and ULFA.

The Indian Mujahideen is alleged to be involved in serial bomb blasts in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bangalore and Mumbai and came under spotlight on February 23, 2005 when it carried out a blast in Varanasi leaving eight people injured.

The deadliest attack of the IM was in the pre-Diwali blasts in the national capital in 2005 in which 66 people were killed.

Amir Reza Khan was the founding member of the Indian Mujahideen, which was created by ISI ostensibly to spread terror through Indian front outfits. The group is at present headed by Iqbal Bhatkal, a resident of North Karnataka, the sources say.

The outfit's hand is seen in this year's Pune blast that claimed 17 lives. Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorist Squad claims that it had evidence to link Riaz Bhatkal, Iqbal's brother, with the blast. The Bhatkal brothers are believed to be in the Gulf and Pakistan.