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August 25, 2000
Links between defence officials and Anjuman unearthed
George Iype in Bangalore
After two months of investigation into the Deendar Anjuman's activities, after it was accused of having set off a series of bomb blasts in places of worship in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, police officials have stumbled on evidence that some Indian defence officials were acting as its links to the ISI.
Senior intelligence officials probing the Anjuman-ISI links disclosed that some of the sect's high profile and rich members had established contacts with key Indian defence officials in New Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad over the years. However, the officials refused to divulge the details and nature of the evidence linking Anjuman with defence personnel.
"Our evidence suggests that Anjuman members, in connivance with some defence officials, passed on sensitive documents containing information regarding the Indian defence forces and the Defence Research and Development Organisation, to Pakistan in return for money," an intelligence officer in Bangalore told rediff.com.
He said e-mail has been "a frequent mode of communication" between the Anjuman members and the ISI. "We have also unearthed a number of CD-ROMs from Anjuman members that contain details of Indian Air Force stores, strike aircraft, the movement of defence forces and key projects of the DRDO," the official said.
Sources said a number of defence officials are being questioned and probed to establish whether they aided the Anjuman in forwarding secret defence information to Pakistani agencies. The intelligence officials are said to be apprising Home Minister L K Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes of the probe details on a daily basis.
Advani has already announced in Parliament that the government is contemplating strict action against the Anjuman sect -- including a ban -- for carrying out 13 bombings in churches from May 21 to July 9 in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa.
Intelligence agencies recently arrested an Indian Air Force officer, Syed Hasan-ur-Zaman, from New Delhi and two of his brothers -- Syed Khaliq Ur Zaman and Syed Geelani Ur Zaman -- from Nuzvid in Andhra Pradesh for masterminding the bomb blasts in churches.
Officials said the Zaman brothers have been bribing some defence officials in Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi and collecting secret information. The Zaman brothers have also been in constant touch with the Anjuman's Pakistan-based spiritual head, Zia-ul-Hassan, who last year floated a militant outfit named Jamat-e-Hizbul Mujahideen in Peshawar.
The Zaman brothers have been passing on sensitive information on Indian defence projects to Zia-ul-Hassan, who forwarded it to the Pakistani government and the ISI. In return, Hassan is said to have pumped in a huge amount of money through the hawala route to the Zaman brothers.
"The Zaman brothers and their Pakistani contacts generally operated from Nuzvid to ensure complete secrecy of their anti-India operations," an official said. It was in Nuzvid that even the conspiracy to set off bomb blasts in places of worship across south India was hatched by the Anjuman members.
Hassan and his son Zahid Pasha visited India frequently under various aliases and met the Zaman brothers to execute what Anjuman said was "the ISI's plans to prepare India for Jihad" by creating hatred among the various religious communities and disrupting the communication system in India.
A number of Anjuman members who worked in public sector enterprises also aided the deadly plan. While Abdul Rehman Sait, an employee with Bharat Earth Movers Limited was the chief coordinator for the bomb blasts in Karnataka, another employee with the Telecom Department in Hyderabad acted as the strategic link for the Anjuman's Andhra Pradesh operations.
Intelligence sources said with their defence connections, the Zaman brothers were experts in procuring explosives and fabricating them into time-activated devices. Bombs and explosives were assembled at the Zaman household in Nuzvid.
In the last two months, the police in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have arrested 39 Anjuman activists who are said to have acted as ISI agents and planned the bomb blasts in churches.
The intelligence teams that are probing the Anjuman's links with Indian defence officials are expected to arrest some of the officials in the near future.
As further details of the murky dealings of the Sufi sect come to the fore, the Central government has set up special intelligence cells in Bangalore and Hyderabad to specially deal with the increasing operations of the ISI in the south Indian states.
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