Ahmedabad, Aug. 26: As the hunt for the culprits of Monday’s Mumbai mayhem gathers steam, the intelligence establishment has begun to explore whether riot-scarred Gujarati youths trained in Pakistan could have had a hand in the blasts.
A top official today claimed this possibility could not be ruled out as it was an “open fact” that youths craving to avenge the minority killings during the Godhra backlash had been recruited by jihadi outfits to carry out subversive activities.
The claim comes in the backdrop of Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s statement to a television channel that there was “no doubt” yesterday’s blasts at Zaveri Bazaar and in front of the Gateway of India were linked to the post-Godhra riots. Gujarati businessmen dominate the jewellery hub of Zaveri Bazaar.
Gujarat director-general of police K. Chakravarty would “neither confirm nor rule out anything”. “We are keeping an open mind and examining all possibilities though we have no material yet to substantiate Bhujbal’s claim,” he said.
But the police chief said CBI investigations had revealed that at least 500 youths who disappeared from Gujarat after the Godhra communal upheaval had been snapped up by jihadi outfits.
An unnamed army officer had recently said that Kashmir militants were also recruiting restive youths from Gujarat.
After the riots, a great many youths who had lost their loved ones had begun to suffer from a deep feeling of “injustice” and insecurity and had totally lost faith in the judiciary and the police.
But they had been hungry for revenge, so chances that their sentiment was exploited by “anti-national elements” was very high, minority leader J.V. Momin said.
A crime branch officer said about 15 youths arrested in connection with the murder of former home minister Haren Pandya and the bus blasts last year had been to Pakistan via Bangladesh. Militant outfits there had trained them to handle explosives, he said.
The state police and intelligence agencies also have information that some youths had floated an outfit called Lashkar-e-Khaladeen to “avenge the killing of innocents” and hit back at the majority community. The outfit, headed by a self-styled commander, had circulated its 12-point charter titled “Give a call for open terrorism to fight covert terrorism”.
Intelligence sources said the refugee camps set up in the aftermath of the riots had been specially targeted by the jihadis as they were most likely to house riots survivors seething for revenge. Suspects linked to extremist organisations had revealed this, they said.
Also, voluntary agencies which are working with riot victims have come across children declaring that Osama bin Laden is their “hero”.
There were several youths between 17 and 25 years who were ready to do anything to take revenge, a police officer said.