M A I N   N E W S

Al-Qaida in Kolkata?
Subhrangshu Gupta

Kolkata, August 14
On the eve of Independence Day, the Intelligence Department of the Kolkata police detected a gang that was collecting funds from the people in the minority-dominated port and Chitpur areas in the city in the name of Osama bin Laden.

Fifty persons were detained in this connection and other criminal activities in the city during the past 24 hours.

The funds were being collected by issuing coupons of Rs 25 each to the residents by an organisation called Mujahiddin-al-Qaida Pacific International, which allegedly had the blessings of Laden.

The police had seized several coupons and leaflets written in Urdu that which carried Laden’s call to the oppressed minorities to get themselves united for striking the final blow to the enemies — the Bush and the Blair governments.

These coupons, which bore the signature of one Khalifa, put his local address at Dhaka’s Paltan Ganj.

The city police chief, Mr Prasun Mukherjee, admitted they were in the possession of such coupons that had been used for collecting funds from the people at Tapsia, Jakaria Street, Kolutata and Ripon Street areas.

Whether these coupons had been printed by Laden’s followers or some other vested interests for collecting money from the people was yet to be ascertained. So far the police had interrogated around 15 persons in this connection, but none was arrested.

Mr Mukherjee said in the recent past some fake organisations had been found operating in the city and the police had arrested their sponsors. But he did not deny the existence of the ISI and terrorists groups in Kolkata and other areas.

Meanwhile, extreme precautionary measures had been taken throughout the state to thwart any terrorist attacks and other subversive activities during the Independence Day celebrations, said the state home secretary, Mr Prasad Roy. The police authorities deployed at the Kolkata airport, Port Trust, Museum, National Library, Reserve Bank building, Victoria Memorial and all railway stations had been also alerted.

Mr Roy said additional forces had been deployed along the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh border where the MCC, PWG and ISI-sponsored terrorists had been active. Special contingents had been sent to tea garden areas in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar in north Bengal, where the ULFA and the Kamtapur People Party had been operating for liberating their “lands”.

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