A report from the Bangladesh government to the Union home ministry of India over the recent spike in infiltration of terrorists to India has rung alarm bells in the security establishment.
According to the report, 2016 witnessed an over-three-fold increase over 2015 in infiltration by Harkat-ul-Jihadi al-Islami (HuJI) and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) extremists into the border states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.
The development assumes significance as the NIA has found overseas terror links and the direct role of JMB in the October 2014 Burdwan blast at Khagragarh in which two suspected terrorists were killed.
The report said approximately 2,010 HuJI and JMB operatives had entered the three states. While nearly 720 men made a safe passage through the Bengal border, the remaining 1,290 are suspected to have entered through Assam and Tripura.
Bengal government officials are skeptical about the report, but even if just a close estimate, the number is disturbing as intelligence reports pegged the number of infiltrators in 2014 and 2015 at 800 and 659, respectively.
“We are trying to gather information to confirm the veracity of the report,” a senior Bengal home department official said. However, Assam police is concerned about the development.
“There is certainly an increase in terrorist activity because over the last six months, we have arrested 54 JMB operatives,” additional director-general of police (SB), Assam, Pallab Bhattcharyya, said. “We have formed a high-powered committee of top police officers and MLAs to check infiltration. They visit the border regularly and conduct meetings with security forces,” he added. There is also information that JMB secretary Iftadur Rehman entered India on January 12 this year on a fake passport and has established contact with linkmen in Assam and Bengal. He may also visit Delhi, intelligence sources said.
Iftadur’s real name is Sajjad Hussain. “Apart from that we also have information that on January 18, a meeting between linkmen from Assam, West Bengal and New Delhi and the top JMB and Hu-JI leadership took place in the Mymensingh district of Bangladesh,” a source said.
According to senior cops, there has been a change in the operational mechanism of these militants post-Khagragarh and this was creating problems in tracking them. “Previously, there were certain porous districts like Malda, Murshidabad or Nadia through which they came. Now, they are coming through Assam and Tripura and then entering West Bengal. This is easier and safer for them,” a senior Bengal police officer said.
“Being a riverine border, it is difficult for security agencies to keep vigil,” the officer added.