Thursday, January 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Kolkata attack: no breakthrough yet
61 detained, motor cycle recovered
Subhrangshu Gupta

Commandos stand guard outside the US information office
Commandos stand guard outside the US information office in Kolkata on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

Kolkata, January 23
The police failed to make any breakthrough in the yesterday’s dastardly terrorist attack on Kolkata’s US center even after 36 hours today. They appear to be groping in the dark about the identity and whereabouts of those involved.

In the attack, five police constables were killed and 20 injured.

Three Bangladeshi nationals and the brother of the main accused in the abduction of a shoe baron were among 61 persons detained in connection with the terrorist attack.

The three Bangladeshis were picked up from Basirhat and Satchura villages and three madrassa teachers were detained at Hakimpur village on the Indo-Bangladesh border for sheltering a person who was on the run, police sources said.

Mr Soumen Mitra, DCP, Detective Department, said the brother of a kidnap case accused Asif Rezak Khan, who was killed in an encounter with the police in Gujarat last year, was picked up from the Beniapukur area of central Kolkata for questioning.

A caller from Dubai had yesterday claimed responsibility for the attack saying that it was in retaliation of the killing of Khan.

Meanwhile, police sources in the North 24 Pargana district said the Bangladeshis detained since yesterday were identified as Jehangir, Sikandar and Farooq.

The police has recovered a motorcycle from the border area after its rider gave a slip and entered Bangladesh, the sources said adding that investigations were on to find out if the vehicle was used in yesterday’s incident.

The police said the owner of the motor cycle was Korban Ali, a madrassa teacher of Duttapara under Swarupnagar police station of North 24 Parganas district and he was one of the detainees.

Korban Ali was detained for interrogation along with Abdul Gaffar and Mozammel Haque, a teacher and a clerk of the same madrassa.

Mr Mitra said the faces of the attackers and the number plate of their motor cycles were visible in the video footage which would help the investigation.

He, however, made it clear that

nobody had been formally arrested, saying that, “we have only detained these people because of their criminal antecedents and terrorist background and have examined them.”

Earlier, Mr S. Roy, Chief Secretary, held meetings with the Union Home Secretary (Special), Mr Ashok Bhandari, who had flown down to the city last night from New Delhi to make an on-the-spot study.

Mr Bhandari also met the state Home Secretary, Mr A.K. Dev, Police Commissioner, Mr S. Chakraborty and DGP D. Bajpayee and discussed yesterday’s incident vis-à-vis the steps to be taken against the terrorists activities which had already grown at an alarming rate in the region.

Kolkata’s US Consul-General, Christopher Sandrolini, met the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary today and assured his assistance in the inquiry.

Meanwhile, the US centre and the US Consulate reopened today under tight security after a day’s closure due to yesterday’s terrorist strike.

Sources at state-run SSKM Hospital said the condition of two of the eight injured policemen continued to be critical.

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Wednesday rejected suggestions linking it to the attack. Bangladesh has condemned yesterday’s attack.

Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Monilal Tripathi was summoned by Shamsher M. Chaudhary, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary, so that Dhaka could convey its concern about the reports, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

State CID, IG, Partha Bhattacharyya, however, contended that the Dubai-based terrorist, Abtab Ansari, alias Farzan, alias Abu Arsalan, who had masterminded the kidnapping of the Khadim owner, Partha Roy Burman, in November, last year, might be behind the attack.Back


Is ISI behind attack?
USA believes so, India not sceptical
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 23
Washington believes and the Vajpayee government is “not sceptical” that yesterday’s incident at American Centre in Kolkata was the handiwork of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) but the Pervez Musharraf regime was apparently aware of what the ISI was up to.

The macabre implications of this assessment are that fundamentalist elements within the ISI, Pakistan army and elsewhere in Pakistan could well be working against General Musharraf and, if unchecked, the trend could pose serious danger to the General’s continuance at the helm of affairs in Pakistan.

Just about a fortnight ago, General Musharraf had delivered a fiery speech castigating fundamentalist elements in his country and said they had virtually become “a state within state”.

Well-placed sources here today said the perception of the Bush administration was that the ISI could well have been behind the Kolkata incident without being told so by the Pakistan Government.

It is understood that this perception of the USA was shared by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief Robert Mueller during his talks with the Indian leadership here yesterday.

Washington is concerned over the heightened fears of hardcore, fundamentalist elements within the Pakistan polity and army gaining control of the country. The reasons for Washington’s worry is that if at this stage General Musharraf were to be ousted in a counter military coup, it could result in Talibanisation of Pakistan.

This fearsome spectre is shared by the Vajpayee government as well and that is why New Delhi has been giving time to Islamabad for addressing its concerns regarding cross-border terrorism.

Union Home Minister L.K. Advani had yesterday stated that the ISI hand in Kolkata incident could not be ruled out, but significantly, sources said, he had not blamed Pakistan Government as such.

The FBI chief would take up the issue of attack on the American Centre in Kolkata with the Pakistani Government authorities during his visit to Islamabad, sources said.

The American doubts over the Kolkata incident have been eloquently voiced. Yesterday, the FBI chief had told a select group of reporters at the US Embassy here that Washington was not willing to categorise the incident as a terrorist crime as yet till a thorough investigation was made.

Similar statement was made by US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher in Washington today who went to the extent of saying that America was not on target as not a single American was killed or injured and no American was inside the premises when the attack took place.

The sources said the Kolkata incident also marked a significant shift in the ISI strategy. Now instead of using terrorist outfits like the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba for terrorist acts, the ISI had started using mafia groups like Asif Raza commandos.Back

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