Crime & Violence

‘Soft-Spoken Man with Polite Demeanour’ Turns Out to be a JMB Militant, Neighbours at a Loss for Words.

The West Bengal police have registered a remarkable success on Tuesday towards tackling terrorism by arresting a Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militant from 24 Parganas. Noor Nabi alias Tamal Chowdhury has been apprehended after a search operation was conducted in Belghuria Northern Park in the Dunlop area following a tip-off from Interpol.

As per information received from the Bangladesh intelligence agency, Nabi was living with a woman at a residence in Northern Park in Dunlop. Acting on a tip-off, Kolkata intelligence officers and Baranagar police raided his residence and arrested the terrorist.

According to police reports, there are 25 cases in different police stations of Bangladesh under the name of the accused which include serious charges such as murder, robbery, arms smuggling. Bangladesh Police sources informed that Nabi fled from Bangladesh to Oman in order to escape arrest. There he started working as a painter until he fled to Kolkata after one of his accomplices got caught. In Kolkata, he started selling fish in New Market. After that, he got close to a woman from Madhyamgram and started living with her in a flat rented for ₹6,000 a month.

The recent incident erupted a sense of panic among the residents of the area. Officers of the intelligence department are interrogating Nabi. Whether he has any connection with any other terrorist outlets is also being investigated. The arrest puts into question the role of the administration as Nabi has been living in the residence under false pretenses for quite a long period of time and has documents with him that are altogether fake.

A lady living in the flat opposite to Nabi’s said, “It is very hard for us to believe this. This soft-spoken man with a handsome appearance and polite demeanour. How is this possible? He always introduced himself as a Bengali. It is hard to even imagine this to be the reality.” She further added that he used to exchange courtesy with everyone in the accommodation and was a regular attendee, indeed a ‘jewel’ of any domestic event.

Kolkata Police said that they are trying to find out when and how Nabi entered India. One police official informed that they have seized several documents relating to JMB from the accused. Nabi is believed to be a close associate of the 4 JMB militants who were arrested from West Bengal in July last year.

The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), although founded in the year 1998, came to prominence in 2005 after the outfit successfully carried out around 500 simultaneous bomb blasts in 63 out of 64 districts of Bangladesh on 17 August 2005. These attacks came six months after the group was proscribed by the Khaleda Zia led Bangladesh government of the time. After the incident, the Bangladesh government came down heavily on the JMB, terminating most of the group’s top leadership with the assistance of a counter-terrorism unit aimed at tackling Islamic terrorism. By 2010, it was believed that the JMB has been completely eradicated, but the organisation revived after a few years and continued fulfilling its radical goals.

The counter measures adopted by the Bangladesh government drove the JMB militants to move out of the country and because of the porous nature of the Indo-Bangladesh border, they pilfered into India without much difficulty. According to official reports, between 2014 and 2017, more than 3,000 militants belonging to JMB entered India through West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura. The outfit was found to be responsible for the Burdwan explosion in 2014 and the blast in Bodh Gaya, Bihar in 2018.

It is important to underline here that a special NIA court yesterday convicted a JMB militant in connection with the Bodh Gaya blast. Jaidul Islam was convicted under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Explosives Substance Act, and the Foreigners Act. The quantum of his punishment would reportedly be announced in due course. The case pertains to the planting of three Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in and around the Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodh Gaya.

As per several reports, ever since the JMB militants started infiltrating into India, the group has been expanding its presence in the country’s eastern states sharing a border with Bangladesh. Investigations carried out by NIA revealed that the radical Islamist organisation has not only found secure places to live but has also set up recruitment camps, madrassas, and training camps in areas close to the international border.

The recent arrest of Noor Nabi alias Tamal Chowdhury along with the smart border management mechanism is indicative of the Indian governments’ commitment to the eradication of terrorism. However, it is also suggestive of the hassle-free movement of the militants across the border. The Islamic State (IS) backing to the JMB has given an enormous boost to its operations in India, both ideologically and logistically. The Indian government needs to have better management in case of border management to stop the illegal migration of terrorists. Apart from this, the Indian government, along with the government of Bangladesh, needs to continue its effort to eradicate the outfit and ensure regional security, as they have been. Further, the counter-strategy of India also needs to address the ideological influence of the JMB, been propagated through madrassas and training camps. 

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