Calcutta, Aug. 18: A three-member Calcutta police team will soon travel to Delhi to interrogate Abdul Karim Tunda about the moles he had planted in the Bengal capital over the past two decades.
City police sleuths said the Lashkar-e-Toiba militant used Calcutta as a transit point while smuggling in Pakistani terrorists from Bangladesh.
His Bangladeshi mentor Zakaria — who trained Tunda in bomb-making in the 1980s and later became his father-in-law — helped him develop a network in Calcutta and Bangladesh, sources said.
“Tunda used his Bangladeshi in-laws’ contacts in Calcutta to oil the terror machinery,” an officer said.
“His recruits in the city provided safe houses and transport to Pakistan-based Lashkar cadres who entered India via Bangladesh to carry out subversive activities in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.”
He added: “There is no case pending in the state in which Tunda can be booked, but we need to find out from him which people in Calcutta work for Lashkar.”
In 2009, Calcutta police had arrested two of Tunda’s henchmen, Abu Taher and Shahnawaz, who are said to have confessed their links with the 70-year-old master bomb-maker.
“We have fished out the recorded statements that Taher and Shahnawaz, who are now in jail, gave us at the Lalbazar police headquarters,” the officer said.
Police sources said Tunda had trained Shahnawaz and Taher in making explosives. The duo allegedly helped smuggle in ammunition ahead of the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
Tunda’s links with Bangladesh go deep. Soon after Pakistani spy agency ISI recruited him in the early 1980s, Tunda had travelled to Pakistan and Bangladesh to learn bomb-making.
In Bangladesh, he had met explosives expert Zakaria, state intelligence branch sources said.
“Tunda learnt all his skills from Zakaria before returning to Mumbai in 1985,” an official said. “He later married Zakaria’s 18-year-old daughter in 2006, when he was 63, and took her to Pakistan.”
The focus of the Calcutta police team in Delhi will also be on tracing the Bangladeshi terror recruits whom Taher and Shahnawaz had sheltered in the city.
“We have specific information that on Tunda’s directions, Taher had recruited at least 30 people from Bangladesh districts bordering North 24-Parganas, Cooch Behar, Malda, North and South Dinajpur, Murshidabad and Nadia,” an officer said.
“Our job is now to track the youths recruited from the bordering districts.”
Shahnawaz and Taher were in Tunda’s payroll and used to receive Rs 50,000 a month, he said.
Police sources said Lashkar had opened a new wing, Tanzeen-e-Mohammedi, under Tunda’s guidance to create unrest in the Northeast and Bengal’s districts bordering Bangladesh.
“Tunda wields influence over the student outfit Bangladesh Islami Chhatrashibir, which is suspected to have links with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, some of whose cadres are still active in Calcutta,” an officer said.