11th man to be held since September on suspicion of having ties with terror organisation
NEW DELHI – More than a month after detaining 10 Muslims from Murshidabad in West Bengal on terror charges, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has now arrested a madrasa teacher from Murshidabad, alleging that he is part of an Al-Qaeda module operating out of West Bengal and Kerala.
Abdul Momin Mondal, 32, was hauled up on Sunday for allegedly “trying to recruit new members for the group” and raising funds.
A statement issued by the NIA says that Abdul Momin was “found to be involved in a series of conspiratorial meetings convened by the members of the Al-Qaeda module. He was also trying to recruit new members for the group and raise funds for furthering its terrorist activities. The home of the accused person was searched and digital devices were seized.”
Siddiqullah Chowdhury, a minister in Mamata Banerjee government, says he has sought details about the arrest. “I don’t know about the case. I have asked people in Raipur Darul Huda Islamia Madrassa in Murshidabad district where Abdul Momin is said to be a teacher. I will make a statement as soon as I get the details,” the minister told Clarion India over the phone from Kolkata on Tuesday.
The minister had criticised the NIA for previous arrests. Last fortnight, he had even accused the NIA and Centre’s Narendra Modi government of defaming the Muslim community in the name of fight against terrorism.
On September 19, NIA arrested nine people: six men from Murshidabad and three from Kerala. Days later, another person was arrested in Murshidabad. The three arrested from Kerala had gone from Murshidabad to work as labourers. All those arrested are from poor backgrounds. Various human rights activists who visited the villages of the detainees expressed their scepticism over the arrests and demanded an impartial enquiry. They charged that the arrests were being politicised and used as anti-Muslim propaganda.
Chowdhury, the minister, told Clarion India the NIA had so far not given any information about the people arrested in September. “We know only that two of them are lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail. Whereabouts of the rest are unknown. We don’t know under what charges they have been booked. We have approached the Calcutta High Court,” he said.
Chowdhury, who is also the West Bengal president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, said they were innocent. They should be released immediately.
NIA has linked Abdul Momin, the madrasa teacher, with Abu Sufiyan, one of the six men arrested in September. “Abdul Momin shared a thick friendship with Abu Sufiyan, a tailor at Raninagar market in Murshidabad,” said the official, as quoted by The Telegraph.
Abdul Momin was produced in a district court in Murshidabad on Monday and granted transit remand so that he could be taken to New Delhi for further interrogation.
According to NIA officials, Abdul Momin was part of the group from Murshidabad that created a Whatsapp group where they would exchange messages that allegedly referred to Ghaza-e-Hind, referring to ultimate conquest of India, The Telegraph quoted an official as saying.
Ghaza-e-Hind was an idea that was floated by Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a separatist organisation and an Al-Qaeda cell active in Jammu and Kashmir. The police in Jammu and Kashmir claimed that in October 2019, the group was completely “neutralised”.
Officials said they had recovered several “digital devices” from Abdul Momin’s house during the raid preceding the arrest.