When a newspaper report begins with "The prospect of terror organisations getting their hands on a nuclear device has long concerned both security agencies and thriller writers" you know that it is not going to be a joy ride.
The manner in which the Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives have been captured and their statements in recent months looks too set up. At the start, let us remember that the Indian Intelligence agencies had not even considered the possibility of any local real or tactical involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks during the early stages of investigations. They, like the media and the public, were completely fascinated by the ten Pakistani men in a boat who landed on our shores, surviving the choppy waters from Karachi with packets of dry fruits and dates.
Except for Ajmal Kasab, they were all killed after going on a rampage in the city and taking the lives of 165 people. Whatever the role of the masterminds, it would not have been possible without local support. In 2008, nothing much was done to find out.
The IM chief Yasin Bhatkal (real name Ahmad Zarar Siddibappa) has been doing a lot of confessing ever since his arrest in August. The latest is that he asked his bossman in Pakistan for a minor favour — a nuclear bomb.
The IM has caused enough harm with rudimentary material, but the ring of N-bomb pushes the organisation in a different league. There is a bizarre ring to this narrative.
Yasin informed the officials:
"Riyaz told me that attacks can be done with nuclear bombs. I requested him to look for one nuclear bomb for Surat. Riyaz told me Muslims would also die in that (nuclear bomb blast), to which I said that we would paste posters in mosques asking every Muslim to quietly evacuate their families from the city."
Muslims have died in several jihadi sponsored blasts, and the guys in Pakistan have been killing their co-religionists for years now.
What is really alarming is that the investigating team actually believed this stuff to let it out to the media. How could Muslims "quietly" evacuate if the posters are going to be up on the walls? Does it mean that the police in Gujarat is so ineffectual? What about Muslims who do not visit mosques and cannot read? One does not even need to ask these questions for it is just so implausible, and as though they care for any lives.
Rather conveniently, the report states:
However, the plan could not be initiated since Yasin was tracked by the IB and arrested in August.
Only to tell tall tales. Bhatkal's statements sound like he is campaigning for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, by creating the N-bomb fear psychosis.
Notice the timing. The NIA that is getting titbits from the IM leader now gives a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, described as "the face of Hindutva terror", in the Sunil Joshi murder case. Rather interestingly, it was "personal enmity" for which she was charged, and the case against her and the others for involvement in the Malegaon blasts remains.
Here again, cart before horse.
© Farzana Versey