West Bengal figured prominently on the terror map in 2014 after a deep-rooted module of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was unearthed in the state following the October 2 Burdwan blast.
The development came as a shocker for the people of the state which has been mostly safe from terror attacks as several investigations revealed that Bengal and Kolkata were being used as transit route by terrorists.
The October 2 blast took place in Khagragarh area of Burdwan district when the entire state was soaked in festive spirits of Durga Puja in which two suspected terrorists were killed.
The Centre decided to hand over the case to National Investigation Agency (NIA) irrespective of ruling Trinamool Congress opposing it by terming that such a probe was an “interference to federal structure“.
Vote bank politics
The terror act opened up a new political front against the Mamata Banerjee regime, with the Opposition accusing the TMC of indulging in appeasement politics and undermining the gravity of the incident in order to pursue vote bank politics.
BJP accused Banerjee of not doing enough to stop infiltration from Bangladesh in order to pursue vote bank politics. TMC was quick to hit back by stating that the onus of stopping infiltration lies with central border guarding agencies.
TMC also accused BJP of trying to flare up its “communal agenda” in the state by using the blast.
Apart from the political slug fest, the incident also pointed out the lacunae in the state police force to deal with terror issues.
Recovery of IEDs from madrasa
NIA recovered a sack full of IEDs from a madrasa after few days which the state police had failed to do.
However, the arrest of Burdwan blast mastermind Sajid, a Bangladeshi national and stated to be ‘chief commander’ of JMB, was a saving grace for the state police.
Suspected JMB terrorist Shakil Ahmed was killed on the spot and two others Sovan Mondal and Abdul Hakim were injured while making the explosives. Mondal later on died in the hospital but Hakim was taken into police custody after treatment.
After NIA took over the probe, startling facts came out about the entire JMB module operating in Burdwan, Birbhum and Murshidabad districts of the state and how few unaffiliated madrasas are allegedly being used as centres for initial theoretical training by using scriptures, video clippings of al Qaeda training modules.
Investigation revealed that the accused persons and their associates were the members of JMB, a terrorist organisation proscribed in Bangladesh and they were preparing IEDs which were being transported to Bangladesh to create civil and political unrest there.
An international terror network having interests in Bangladesh is suspected to have a hand in it and of the eight arrested so far in connection with the blast, most are nationals of that country.
An NIA team visited Bangladesh in connection with the Burdwan blast. A team of Bangladeshi sleuths also visited Kolkata to interact with NIA officers.
Based on NIA’s information, Dhaka sleuths nabbed four JMB suspects, including its women wing chief Fatema Begum, who is also the wife of Burdwan blast prime accused Sajid.