LeT suspect ran tutorial

An alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative, Abdul Nayeem Sheikh, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last week from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, had spent almost two years in Gopalganj district headquarters town to build sleeper cells of the banned terror outfit.

By Ramashankar in Patna
  • Published 8.12.17
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Abdul Nayeem Sheikh (left) and Dhannu Raja. Telegraph pictures

Patna: An alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative, Abdul Nayeem Sheikh, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last week from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, had spent almost two years in Gopalganj district headquarters town to build sleeper cells of the banned terror outfit.

The startling revelation came to the fore during interrogation of Bedar Bakht alias Dhannu Raja, who was arrested from Sareya ward number 1 locality of Gopalganj town on November 30 this year.

Dhannu reportedly told interrogators that he had provided shelter to Nayeem, who allegedly worked for LeT, in the house of one Id Mohammad at Purani Chowk in Gopalganj, around 145km northwest of Patna.

Nayeem, considered close to 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Abu Jindal, had lived in Gopalganj from 2015 to March this year. He procured Aadhaar card, passport and PAN (Permanent Account Number) number purportedly by submitting forged documents in which he introduced himself as Suhail Khan alias Mohammad Ali, a resident of Gopalganj ward number 19.

Nayeem claimed that he completed his postgraduation from JP University, Chhapra. Prior to leaving Gopalganj, Nayeem used to run a private coaching institute there. He came in contact with a local resident, Prashant Kumar Rai, who reportedly helped him set up an English spoken coaching centre on Jadopur road in Gopalganj.

Rai's father, Upendra Kumar, said NIA had summoned his son to Delhi for questioning. "My son is innocent. He didn't know that Nayeem was linked to any terrorist organisation," he told reporters in Gopalganj.

An NIA team, which is camping in Gopalganj, picked up two more suspects from Gopalganj on Thursday.

The two suspects were associated with the educational institutes from where Nayeem had reportedly obtained fake certificates of the secondary school to get his passport issued from the Patna regional passport office.

The NIA is looking for a girl, who used to live with Nayeem at Gopalganj. A source said the girl has gone missing after the arrest of Dhannu Raja. NIA also came to know about Nayeem's account with Thave branch of a nationalised bank.

Sources in intelligence agencies said Nayeem used to indoctrinate youths under the garb of the coaching institute, Smart Learner, where he used to teach English. "Nayeem had good knowledge of computers as well," an investigating officer said under the cover of anonymity.

When contacted, Gopalganj superintendent of police Mritunjay Kumar Choudhary said the district police were cooperating with the NIA in the investigation. "Since the NIA case is probing the case, we are extending only logistical support to the investigating agency," he told The Telegraph over the phone.

A police officer posted with Gopalganj Town police station said Nayeem got suspicious after a passport in his name reached Gopalganj by post, which he had not applied for. "He fled the district and took shelter in Varanasi from where he was nabbed by a joint team of the NIA and the UP police's anti-terrorism squad on November 29 this year," he added.