The Lucknow encounter that lasted well into the night after a suspected terrorist -- allegedly linked to the train blast in MP earlier yesterday -- was holed up inside a building on the city’s outskirts has once again put the intelligence agencies and security apparatus on their toes.
It took more than 11 hours for security personnel to neutralise a militant who had taken shelter at a house in Haji Colony of city’s Thakurganj area.
The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), which conducted the operation, claimed that the deceased, identified as Saifullah, was an active member of terror group Islamic State which has been trying to grow its footprints in India.
The house, according to reports, belonged to one Badshah Khan, resident of Malihabad, and the suspect had been living there with two others for the past couple months.
"The slain terror suspect belongs to the Khurasan module of the ISIS and was an active member. But, whether he has been indoctrinated or not is a matter of investigation," IG ATS Aseem Arun said.
After the operation was over, security forces opened the doors of the house where the terrorist was holed up. The force went inside and found the suspect dead along with weapons.
While the operation wouldn’t otherwise have assumed such significance, it is the recoveries that were made by the ATS from the encounter site that should sound warning bells. Apparently, the MP train blast to which the accused militant Saifullah has been linked, was only a teaser and there were bigger plans that were underway.
The recoveries included an ISIS flag, eight pistols, 650 rounds of ammunition, 50 fired rounds, 1.5 kg gun power, explosives, gold, cash, passports, SIM cards and a train time table. The other materials seized included wires, different cords and newspapers.
The commandos also saw a wire wrapped around the stomach of the terrorist.
The standoff began on Tuesday evening, hours after a blast on Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train. During the investigation, security forces claimed to have discovered some link between Saifullah, the accused terrorist, and the train blast that left at least 10 people injured.
A low-intensity blast on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train at Jabri railway station on Tuesday, injuring 10 people. Agencies said this was the first time an Islamic State module carried out an attack in India. The statement by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan confirming the ISIS role in the attack is equally alarming.
He said that the blast took place in the train via a pipeline bomb and that militants sent the photographs to their handlers sitting in Syria. The Chief Minister even informed that the terrorists reached Bhopal from Lucknow via Pushpak Express and were nabbed within three hours of the incident.
“We have proof of the involvement of ISIS,” Chouhan said.
“Paraphernalia shows terrorists' links with ISIS. They sent a photo to handler via social media. They from Lucnkow,” he added.
The blast has sent a security alarm to the government which often claims that the ISIS has failed to attract Indian Muslims.
During the investigation, it was also revealed that six suspects, who were arrested in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, were active on social media and were in regular touch with their handlers.
According to reports, Saifullah along with others were planning something big but the security forces reacted promptly and foiled the module.
Sources also said that Saifullah was the head of ISIS’s northern India unit.