Terror attacksWhat do you make out of the news that says 10 people have been arrested in Assam in connection with the October 2 Burdwan blast?  That terror is spreading its tentacles in northeast India is an old subject, but what is new is that the recent developments point to something more sinister.

Terror kingpin Sahanoor Alam was the 10th to be arrested in the Burdwan blast case. He is the ‘financial brain’ of the terror outfit, Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JuMB). Alam, the ‘most wanted man’ in the case, has been setting up the hubs of JuMB across eastern India. For those unaware, JuMB is also working to destabilize the Sheikh Hasina Government. Alam was also involved in a plot to assassinate the Bangladesh PM.

Dentist by profession and terrorist by practice, the most unnerving of all the titles Alam has received must be this: ‘face of Jihadi movement in Assam.’ Alam’s arrest and the arrest of his kin Saburuddin Ahmed on November 14 from the Nalbari district (Alam was also arrested from the same district) could be cases in isolation, but these isolated incidents actually piece a puzzle together.

Vulnerable areas in Assam

The arrests related to the blast case actually started on October 10 when six persons were taken into custody from Barpeta district, which is Nalbari’s neighbouring district in lower Assam. The next day, three more were arrested from Assam’s Dhubri district. In a similar incident, police seized a huge cache of explosives from Goalpara district.  A few days later on October 21, a suspected linkman of an Islamic terror group was killed by the security forces in Kokrajhar district.

If reports are to be taken at face value, the Central intelligence agencies have designated some of the “vulnerable” areas in the State. A common man’s prognosis would say that these areas are the entire southern or the lower Assam that comprise the above districts.

Strategy adopted by Jihadi groups

The Assam police is of the view that the youth of the riot-hit regions of Assam are the “most vulnerable” to motivation by these jihadi groups. To set up the hubs in Assam and West Bengal, their ploy has been to get a local identity by marrying the local women.

There is something more worrying than the foiled terror attack planned during Modi’s Assam visit. Based on the interrogations of the arrested members of JuMB, it has come to pass that radical Islamic forces are trying to make inroads into the Muslim-dominated areas of the State. They have been reportedly instructed to remain as sleeper cells and hunt for potential Muslim youths who will readily join the jihad campaign. Besides ideological indoctrination, these sleeper cells had also undergone training in handling explosives at madrasas in Burdwan and Murshidabad districts of West Bengal.

It was long time back when veteran BJP leader LK Advani had professed that the violence in Assam should not be portrayed as a Hindu-Muslim conflict. It’s rather a conflict between Indians and foreigners who are illegally infiltrating the borders. That’s perhaps the key to counter the dual problems of a porous border with Bangladesh and continuous infiltration of various terror elements.

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