India: Police Remand 3 Suspected JeM Operatives

Akash Vashishtha
New Delhi
160504-IN-jem-suspects-620.jpg Kiren Rijiju, India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, addresses an event organized by the Bharatiya Janata Party in Amritsar, Jan. 31, 2016.

Indian police plan to conduct more raids across several northern states over the next few days after a special unit of the Delhi Police said Wednesday it had captured three suspected Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) operatives who were allegedly plotting attacks in the capital.

A top official of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell said the unit would keep conducting raids in the national capital area and neighboring states.

“More arrests cannot be ruled out at this stage,” Special Commissioner of Police Arvind Deep told BenarNews.

Acting on a tipoff from Indian intelligence agencies, police detained 13 suspected members of Pakistan-based JeM in overnight raids in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, Deep said Wednesday.

Later on Wednesday, three of the suspected JeM members – Sajid Ahmad, Sameer Ahmad and Shakir Ansari – were formally arrested and produced in a Delhi court, which then gave the police 10 more days to interrogate them through a remand. The 10 other suspects remain in detention but have not been formally arrested.

Sajid and Sameer are from Delhi, and Shakir is from Uttar Pradesh state’s Deoband town, police said.

Deep said the three men were under surveillance for a long time and were “planning to carry out attacks at busy market places in Delhi.”

Police sources told BenarNews that homemade bombs, 11 batteries, two timers and about 250 grams of gunpowder were recovered from the three suspects.

“They [the suspects] communicated with each other via Whatsapp. We have intercepts of their chats,” a police source said.

‘Definite evidence’

“The arrested men had allegiance to JeM. We have definite evidence against them,” Deep said, adding, “Sajid, the mastermind of the outfit’s Indian cell, is technically sound and knows how to make bombs. He was planning to go to Pakistan shortly.”

Nine others who were picked up in the overnight raids continue to be held in detention, police said. All are residents of Delhi and the neighboring town of Ghaziabad.

Police allege the suspects were influenced by JeM’s Pakistan-based chief Masood Azhar, who is wanted by New Delhi in connection with an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001 and the January attack on the Pathankot Air Force Base in Punjab.

Call for caution

Hailing the police action, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told reporters: “We remain on alert for Delhi since it is the capital of the nation and the Delhi Police has done a good job keeping that in mind.”

He did not divulge details of intelligence that led to the raids.

“The intelligence inputs can’t be shared. Otherwise, it would create an atmosphere of fear across the nation, which doesn’t send [a] good message to the people,” he said.

But security analysts cautioned against celebrating too soon, and called on the government to remain vigilant.

“These people, like the ones arrested, are only front faces. They are not the actual perpetrators. They are not suicide bombers. Unless the actual perpetrators are arrested and punished, such acts would not stop,” retired Maj. Gen. Afsir Karim, a Delhi-based security analyst, told BenarNews.

Former Admiral H.C. Malhotra, another defense analyst, agreed.

“The government cannot afford to be complacent and security agencies have to be in a high state of preparedness all the time. These missions and adversaries would continue,” he told BenarNews.

“Our internal security also needs to be strengthened as there are several people who are under strong extraneous influences of such terror groups. Security agencies have to collaborate and cooperate with each other to tackle this menace,” he said.


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