Lucknow encounter linked with Ujjain train blast, leads suggest Islamic State gaining foothold in India


New Delhi: The Ujjain train blast, which led to the Thakurganj encounter in Lucknow, probably marks the first attack by the dreaded terror outfit Islamic State in India, involving local recruits radicalised from within the country.

A suspected Islamic State operative was killed in the wee hours of Wednesday after an 11-hour-long anti-terror operation conducted by the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) commandos.

The security officials involved in the operation made their best efforts to persuade the suspect, who was holed up in a house in Haji colony of Thakurganj area, to surrender but in vain.

After the initial exchange for fire, the ATS commandos lobbed chilly bombs inside the house to incapacitate him, but to no avail. Police teams bored a hole in the roof and blew up the back wall of the building to enter the house.

 Senior police officials were camping at the site to oversee the operation, which was also being monitored by the Union Home Ministry.

Initially, it was suspected that there were two IS operatives inside the house but that turned out to be a false alarm as police found the body of only one. One pistol and a revolver was found in possession of Saifullah, the terror suspect who was killed.

Separately, a module, radicalised by the deadly terrorist organisation Islamic State, triggered a low-intensity blast in a train in Madhya Pradesh earlier on Tuesday, injuring 10 passengers.

The morning blast on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train at Jabri railway station is possibly the first instance of a terror strike by an IS module in India.

The blast on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train spurred the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh police to launch coordinated operations in the two states.

Soon, eight members of the group were arrested, while UP’s Anti-Terror Squad got “concrete” information from intelligence about the presence of gang leader Saifullah, believed to be involved in a train blast in Madhya Pradesh.

When the ATS officials went to apprehend him, he suddenly opened fire on the team from the house.

The Times of India quoted sources in central intelligence agencies as well as MP and UP police confirming that that the module owes allegiance to IS.

However, it is yet to be ascertained whether the directive to carry out the attack came from an “online handler” of the international terrorist network currently engaged in a grim battle of survival in Iraq and Syria.

IS is known for its federated way of functioning where it encourages jihadis loyal to it to select their targets and hit them.

So far, intelligence agencies had been able to nip terror plots by IS-inspired jihadis before they could be executed.

The house in which Saifullah was killed belonged to Badshah Khan, resident of Malihabad, and the accused had been living there with two others for the past two months.

They posed as students and did not mingle with the neighbours, an ATS official said and informed that efforts were now underway to nab the two accomplices who were at large.

In a related development, another suspect of a sleeper module has been held from Kanpur by the ATS.

Police picked up two suspects from Lakhna in Etawah and three in Kanpur.

This is for the first time that an attack has been carried out by IS in India, using the recruits radicalised from within the country. Previously, IS had tried to carry out many attacks in Indian cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, through various modules but all such attempts were foiled.

In last one year, NIA and police of various states have arrested about 60 Indian-origin IS recruits before they could carry out attacks. These men were part of at least 6-7 modules, which couldn’t carry attacks.

Following the Lucknow gunfight, an alert has been sounded at the Lucknow International Airport and at prominent railway stations across the state.

Police and intelligence officials have been directed to step up vigil and keep a close watch on busy thoroughfares, malls and markets.

source:www.zeenews.india.com



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