India has become a prime target for terrorist attacks as evident from the numerous cases of bombing and shooting that has claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent people. Our country is now a haven for different terrorist factions who include the Naxalites (India’s own home bred group of terrorists), Indian Mujahidin (IM) and sleeper cells of international terrorists. The Indian Government has realized this late, but better late than never. However, the Government is still sluggish in adopting the aggressive counter terrorist measures needed to contain and defuse the current explosive situation. While the terrorists continue killing people in the name of the Jihaad, twisting the principles of Quran, Indian government is showing more aptitude in the damage control rather than actually seeking out the terrorists and neutralizing them.
However, in the midst of all this a new feather goes to the cap of the RAW, with the arrest of the much wanted terrorist “Hakimji” Syed Abdul Karim Tunda on 16th August 2013, in the border area of Nepal. The arrest was a joint effort of the RAW, and the intelligence services of UAE and Saudi Arabia. Tunda was using an alias and forged passport.
A short biography of “Hakimji” Syed Abdul Karim Tunda
Tunda is an old school Jihaadi, one of the most wanted Indian faces, has been on the run for the last 19 years. A one armed explosive expert, Tunda specializes in IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) along with the uses of RDX and semtex and remote detonation devices. A mentor and recruiter of potential terrorists, Tunda started his life as a scrap dealer. A carpenter and a cloth merchant after that, Tunda’s initiation in terrorism by the ISI happened when he was 40. No wonder life begins at 40! He lost an arm possibly in an explosion gone wrong, which had earned him the nickname ‘Tunda’, wanted in 40 cases of terror attacks involving explosives. He is also alleged to be the chief planner of the 1993 bomb blasts in Bombay in cahoots with Tiger Menon and Dawood Ibrahim. At the age of 56 he married Ashma aged 18. Of the seven children that he has sired, one is absconding, and one joined the LeT who was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police on terrorism charges.
Important information revealed by Tunda under interrogation
Tunda’s testimony has unlocked a barrage of information that are proving to be useful missing links in the last three decades of unsolved or partially solved terrorist attack cases. Tunda’s right hand Md Alauddin (55) was arrested from Karandighi in North Dinajpur recently. Alauddin and three others were recruited by Tunda in 1998 on a handsome salary basis to smuggle explosives from Bangladesh to the wide network of terrorist sleeper cells in India. During this period, Tunda was frequenting Kathmandu and Bangladesh using false identities. Alauddin escaped the intelligence net once in 1998 along with his accomplice Md Bashir (30). It was a close shave. Bashir was arrested from his home in Signalpur village (Bihar) by the Delhi Police recently. The other two recruits were nabbed within 48 hours following Bashir’s arrest. The Bangladeshi terrorist recruit Shafikul Islam (arrested in 2009) was used by Tunda to supply the LeT with 20 kilos of RDX on four different occasions in 1997- 98. The RDX was used by the LeT to carry out a chain of explosions in different parts of India. It is now evident that both Bashir and Alauddin (who received a promotion in his LeT rank after Shafikul’s arrest) were important links in the terror chain of Tunda and all of them had deep niches with both the LeT and the Indian Mujahidin (IM).
Alauddin had also arranged a safe house for Sikander Azam (one of the top terrorists of Jammu and Kashmir) and a certain Iqbal, both of whom were later granted a safe passage to Nepal. It was further revealed that the 1,400 kilometers of India Bangladesh border manned by the absolutely corrupt BSF are the most preferred incursion points of both the IM and the LeT into India for unleashing their terrorist activities. Tunda carried out his Bangladesh operations under the alias of Kanchan/Sabbir. Tunda’s terrorist career started with the joining of Jamiat- Ahl- e Hadith. It was basically a cover for Tunda who was also a suspected member of the Islamic Chhatra Shibir (Jamaat student faction). Tunda hit the big time when he met the LeT chief Zaki Ur-Rehman- Lakhvi. It was under Lakvi’s instructions that a certain Major Pasha of the ISI became the handler of Tunda, Alauddin and Bashir. With the Pakistan ties now firmly established, Tunda moved to Bangladesh. From there he shifted to Saudi Arabia and finally settled in Pakistan.
One of the most damaging facts exposed by Tunda in his testimony was his link with the former ISI Chief Hamid Gul who was his ISI contact. Tunda alleged Gul of being involved in the Indian currency counterfeiting racket and that Gul was the main supplier of counterfeit Indian money to the LeT members. Gul’s reaction to Tunda’s allegation was extremely lame as evident from his statement, “He (Tunda) is lying. There is no truth in his claims. I have never met him. My name is very familiar in India. It sells very well in India. [Maybe] it’s the most familiar name that occurred to Tunda. I talk vociferously and I’m some sort of opinion maker. I have no other role”. The truth is Tunda and Bashir handled the counterfeit currency operations while Alauddin dealt with the explosive smuggling ring. During his stay in Pakistan, Tunda confirmed having regular contacts with people like Jamaat-ud-Dawah Chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the kingpin behind the Mumbai attacks of 26th to 29th November 2008, claiming the lives of 164 innocent people and leaving more than 300 civilians wounded. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is among the 20 most wanted criminals list.
Amongst the other people that Tunda met during his tenure in Pakistan was one Dawood Ibrahim whose current location in Karachi is being monitored by the ISI. Tunda’s confessions reaffirmed Pakistan’s callousness of harbouring criminals wanted all over the world that have been proved beyond doubt by the takeout of Osama Bin Laden by the US Navy Seals in Pakistan. Tunda stays in Judicial Custody till 21st September and would probably be brought to West Bengal for further interrogations. Currently, the intelligence agencies are trying to glean out as much information as possible regarding Tunda’s network, his contacts, sources of explosives and other relevant facts.
Tunda’s confession should make the Government of India re-think their Indo-Pak policies. Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif’s intentions of “aspiring to promote friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations” sounds as hollow as his denials of harbouring wanted criminals. Pakistan is a ‘friendly’ neighbour with a permanent trigger itch. The terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir are precipitating a violent and volatile atmosphere. Pakistan and global terrorist organizations funded disruptive activities are tearing our country apart. There is a continuous violation of the LOC mandates by the Pakistani soldiers. What kind of future are we looking at?