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Sudhir K Singh
Like a bad dream, SIMI resurfaces
Posted: Sunday, 12 June 2011 at 5:55 PM
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Just when you thought the threat perception from the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) had evaporated for good, it invariably recurs like a bad dream. This was apparent from the killing of a police constable of the Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), and two others, by the body's activists at the Ratlam police station on June 3.

State ATS chief Vipin Maheshwari told this newspaper that such killings were usually designed to act as morale boosters, much like the last incident on November 23, 2009, at Khandwa in which another ATS cop (Sitaram Yadav) was gunned down on a motor cycle along with two others. Especially since the entire core of SIMI’s team (around 35) in the state has been behind bars since 2008. And post-June 3, eight more have been rounded up, the current head Dr Abu Faisal included.

Diminution of SIMI’s activities, said Mr Maheshwari, in the last few years has much to do with the arrest of the body’s much wanted general secretary, the Ujjain based Safdar Nagori, and his equally dreaded cousin Qamruddin Nagori, president of the state SIMI cell. The Nagori brothers were believed to have been in constant touch with the one-eyed Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. Demands to lift the ban on SIMI, thankfully, was turned down by the Supreme Court in 2008.  

Incidents may now be sporadic, warns DGP Intelligence RK Shukla, but the capability and intent is still intact. Only a high state of alert has prevented the worst these last few years. Ujjain district VHP chief Bherulal Tank was shot on May 27 this year, but managed to survive. The plan to bump off lawyers and judges connected to the Allahabad court verdict on Ayodhya and Hindu right wingers involved in killings of Muslims was confessed during the ongoing interrogations of arrested activists. Also on the SIMI/Indian Mujahideen hit list was the owner of a Delhi based magazine, Diamond Comic, which published a portrait of the Prophet.  

And on June 10, the state ATS in a breakthrough confirmed SIMI's involvement in one of the biggest heists in the state capital last August: 12 kg of gold was looted from the offices of a local gold finance company.  

Lest it be forgotten, reminds Mr Maheshwari, the group's seditious plans became amply clear from the Gujarat police’s revelation that the bombs used in the July 26, 2008, Ahmedabad blasts were sourced from MP. The body was even suspected to have had a hand in the Ajmer Sharif blast on October 1, 2007, in which three persons were killed and 17 injured. Here again it was fairly certain that the explosives were bought from Indore and Ujjain. Live unused bombs were found wrapped in weeklies published from MP.

SIMI’s character, felt Mr Shukla, has drastically changed since the 1970s and its post-Babri radicalization. It’s operations now are amorphous and splintered. Each of its modules functions largely on its own. There is no centralized command per se. Exchange of intelligence between states, especially UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, is crucial. “It can't be a one-time job.” The process has to be continuous and permanent.

But the hard fact is that the SIMI continues to use the Malwa region in MP as their operational base, he said.

(Published in the 12th June edition of the Sunday Standard, a publication of the New Indian Express) 

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