NEW DELHI: The conclusion that Islamic State was behind the low intensity blast at a train near Ujjain even as anti-terror operation was underway in Lucknow could have been premature as the modus operandi, choice of location and type of IED used suggests that either a module of Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) or the SIMI could have hit the Bhopal-Ujjain Passenger train.
The role of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the IED blast at the train in Madhya Pradesh could not be ruled out as the banned outfit has been planning to avenge the Bhopal jailbreak encounter incident for the past few months. The timing of retaliation could have been chosen in the wake of conviction of top SIMI leadership including its former chief Safdar Nagori, top Intelligence sources said, adding Ujjain and Indore have traditionally been SIMI strongholds.
The Intelligence agencies and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are also looking into the possibility of another group taking advantage of the sympathy generated within the Muslim community after the encounter of SIMI operatives post-Bhopal jailbreak.
Rubbishing reports that the IS was behind the terror hit on the train in Bhopal headed by the terrorist killed in Lucknow, Intelligence officials said the IS’ operations are primarily aimed towards capturing territory and targeting security forces. Most of the IS modules have been busted from South India and if at all any action was planned by them the targets could have been southern part of the country.
The Union Home Ministry, meanwhile, is unhappy with the Uttar Pradesh Police for dishing out a running commentary during Lucknow encounter of the terrorist and jumping the gun by declaring the terrorist to be belonging to IS module, a top Ministry official said.
“When the FIR in the incident was registered today, the police should have waited for the investigation to be completed and then declaring the terror outfit’s name. Declaring the name of terror outfit could hamper the ongoing investigation as other members of terror modules may flee to safer destinations,” the official said.
The Union Home Ministry has received the copy of FIR from Madhya Pradesh Government and is waiting for the copy of the case from UP. After examining both the cases, a decision will be taken to hand over to the NIA both the cases for further investigation, the official further said.
Both the cases are likely to be handed over to the NIA as preliminary probe by the Central Intelligence agencies point to a larger conspiracy to hit vital installations across the country by an international terror group, Ministry sources said, adding Union Home MinisterRajnath Singh is likely to make a detailed statement in Parliament on Thursday on these two incidents.
The sources said AQIS was actively seeking to take advantage of the situation to bring disgruntled Muslim youth to its fold in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for the past many months. AQIS chief Maulana Asim Umar has been issuing statements online to provoke such youth to carry out attacks against other communities, including during the Assembly polls in the UP. Through one statement, Umar had even distorted Islamic scriptures and historical accounts to enlist the support from its sympathizers for furthering its jehadi agenda in the country.
The agenda of the AQIS in India is two-pronged--- to recruit youths and to execute attacks in the country after training them, providing knowhow and funding. The agenda of the IS on the other hand is to use India as a recruitment ground and sourcing logistics for carrying its international jehadi agenda in countries like Syria where it has lost sizeable territory after attacks by the Russian and other forces, Intelligence officials said.
Preliminary probe suggests the low intensity of the blast through pipe bomb and taking accommodation on rent posing as students are common tactics deployed by the AQIS in Bangladesh. “Though the initial leads points to some connection between the module and Syrian groups, the conclusion that it was linked to IS could be flawed as many other groups are countering the IS and the Assad regime there.
The Al Qaeda is fighting the Assad regime in Syria. All these aspects would be looked into before drawing a conclusion on the outfit that carried out the attack on a train near Bhopal, said counter-terrorism expert Dr Rituraj Mate.
Apparent characteristics of the module like all of them hail from UP where the AQIS has been focusing on recruitment for quite some time besides the selection of explosives, type of IED used and area of execution point the attack to be the handiwork of AQIS, Mate added.
Earlier during the day, a team NIA officials reached Bhopal to look into the train blast case in Madhya Pradesh. The team is learnt to have visited the blast site near Jabri railway station under Shajapur district in the State. The NIA team will analyse the material evidence and records gathered by MP Police to ascertain if the blast was a terror attack. If the materials suggest the role of a terror group behind the incident, the agency will request the Union Home Ministry to handover the probe to the federal agency for further probe, sources said. Officials from NIA’s Lucknow office are also in touch with the UP ATS and visited the site of the encounter at Thakurganj locality.
While a terrorist Saifullah was eliminated by the Anti-terrorist Squad of the UP Police in Lucknow late last night, a group suspected to be part of the terror module run by him hit a running train in Bhopal in which ten persons were injured.