Two Bangladeshi militants recently apprehended in Kolkata had plans to murder bloggers in Bangladesh, the Indian Special Task force (STF) has said.
On Tuesday, Kolkata police arrested three people including two Bangladeshi nationals - Samsad Mian alias Tanvir (26), along with Rizaul Islam alias Riyaz - from near Kolkata railway station.
A 32mm pistol, a flash drive, al-Qaeda documents on how to make explosives, and religious documents in both English and Hindi were recovered from their possession.
According to a report in the Times of India, the militants had links with Ansar-al-Islam and had made a new “hit list” of Bangladeshi bloggers who they wanted to eliminate, naming Farukh Sadiq as their No.1 target.
A senior officer told the Times of India that none of the arrested are part of the core strike team.
The Times of India reported that at least six arms – of 7.32 mm and 9mm – have been smuggled through the porous India-Bangladesh border in the past six months by Ansarullah modules.
Sources said arms smuggler Monotosh De smuggled weapons through other Ansarullah members but there are two other smugglers based in West Bengal who are directly dealing with Ansar-al-Islam, which used to be known as Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and has been banned in Bangladesh in March.
Quoting the sources, Times of India said the particular module – especially Tanvir, along with Riyaz – were instructed to procure chemicals like ammonium nitrate from shops in Kolkata.
Stating that the duo entered India in July 2016, Lalbazar sources said an agent took the two Bangladeshis to Manegura area in Hyderabad, where many Bangladeshis are employed in slaughterhouses and mutton factories.
Tanvir and Riyaz worked in Hyderabad for around three months before the company they work for was a closed down.
Later, they moved to Belgaum in north Karnataka and began working in a similar factory along with a few other Bangladeshis.
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Tanvir had settled in Belgaum and was even operating a bank account. However, he was later instructed to move to Pune, where Tanvir worked as a construction labourer despite being a civil engineer himself.
Tanvir and Riyaz complained to Bangladesh that they needed to move. Accordingly, Tanvir returned to Hyderabad and landed a job as a computer hardware engineer.
A top STF official told the Times of India that the militant pair were given instructions from Bangladesh to move in September this year. They first went to Patna and then to Ranchi, before finally moving to Kolkata on Dashami.
Their handler asked them to find a shelter in the city or its surroundings, the official added.
Police sources said Tanvir was a member who rose from being a “highly westernized youth” to the head of its explosives wing.
Stating that Tanvir belongs to a “well-to-do family”, another senior official said: “He claimed he had gone to an engineering college in Sylhet where he was staying with his sister.
The official said Tanvir’s senior, Mamun, who is under Bangladesh police custody, had forced him to visit mosques and asked him to grow a beard.
Sometime in 2014, Tanvir was blindfolded and taken to sacked major Syed Ziaul Haque, commonly referred to as Major Zia.
The officer added Tanvir became more radicalized when his family became distant after noticing changes in him.