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From poverty-stricken homes to medical college to terror suspect list

From poverty-stricken homes to medical college to terror suspect list

Author: Johnson T A
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: February 25, 2008
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/276759.html

Introduction: After software engineer, Karnataka police probe three youths, sons of a silverware polisher, bus driver, railway employee

The lives of three Karnataka youths, built through academic perseverance against a backdrop of poverty and on the verge of professional careers as medical practitioners, has hit a downward spiral following alleged links to terrorist activities.

Mohammed Asif, 23, Mirza Ahmed Baig, 23, and Allah Baksh Yadavada, 24, are all students of the 2002 MBBS batch at the government-run Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences in Hubli in north Karnataka.

While Baig and Yadavada, house surgeons at KIMS, are a step away from being full-fledged doctors, Asif, who dropped a year had been preparing for his final examinations when the police came knocking on his door following the chance arrest of his two friends. All three medical students come from very modest backgrounds.

Along with an ayurvedic medicine college dropout from Hubli, Asadullah Abubacker, 23, and several other youths from Karnataka and Kerala - still being investigated by the Karnataka police - they are alleged to be part of a core group of the banned SIMI being created over the past two years in northern Karnataka.

A software engineer, Mohammed Yahya Kammakutty, 31, a native of Kerala and a resident of Bangalore, arrested on February 21, is considered to be among the key leaders who were putting the SIMI outfit together. Yahya, produced before a magistrate in Hubli on Saturday morning, has been handed over to police custody.

Other identified leaders like Adnan alias Hafeez, an engineer and the son of a Karnataka state transport bus driver hailing from Bijapur in the largely impoverished north Karnataka, and Iqbal, a native of Uttar Pradesh, are all still at large.

The doctors and engineers were all part of a group of nearly 32 alleged SIMI activists who had been holding discreet meetings in different combinations at three different places around northern Karnataka - allegedly strategising terror.

Cases have been booked against those arrested so far under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code: Section 121 (waging war against the Government of India), 121A (conspiracy to wage war), 122 (to collect arms and explosives), 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy). Sections of the Arms and Explosives Act and Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act have also been brought against them.

o Mohammed Asif: The eldest of six children of a silverware polisher hailing from Raichur district in northern Karnataka, Asif secured a medical seat after notching a rank of 7200 in the Common Entrance Test.

With his father unable to pay the Rs 16,000 needed to obtain the admission, Asif's medical education was finally financed by a trust, the Muslim Education Trust. His needs during the medical course were financed by nominal amounts remitted by a Dubai-based younger brother.

Asif who had been a regular student till 2005 is believed to have begun associating with Asadullah Abubacker, then an ayurvedic medical student in Hubli, and was introduced to the alleged SIMI leader Adnan.

Asif's academic performance reportedly began to flag after he became actively involved in the meetings organised by Adnan and others around north Karnataka. Initially a resident of the college hostel, he subsequently began staying with Asadullah.

Asif was arrested after the police chanced upon Abubacker and Raziuddin Nasir, 21, an alleged Pakistan trained terrorist and the son of Hyderabad cleric Maulana Naseeruddin - known for his extremist views. Nasir who brought to Hubli by Adnan was being sheltered at Asadullah's home.

Following news of the arrest of his friends on January 11, Asif is reported to have called two separate Dubai numbers nearly 116 times. He is also alleged to have been the custodian of four pistols obtained by the group but untraceable following the arrests.

Based on information provided by Asif, the Karnataka police also claim to have found gelatin sticks and electrical wires hidden in a forest area where an alleged SIMI meeting was held. He wrote one of his final MBBS papers while in police custody.

"You cannot make serious charges based on religious literature and some CDs found in his room. These are commonly found in houses of many devout Muslims," his uncle Moinuddin stated.

o Mirza Ahmed Baig: The second son of a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation driver, Baig belongs to a family from the Bidar district in north Karnataka who have been living in the Gulbarga area for the past five years.

The house surgeon's hostel room at KIMS was a meeting place for others including Asif since Baig was held in respect as an ideologue. He had been reprimanded on one occasion for putting up posters of Osama bin Laden in his room, police said.

While Baig was initially identified as being a close associate of Asif, he was not placed under arrest for a few days. He is alleged to have been a part of the SIMI meetings organised by Adnan and others.

o Allah Baksh Yadavada: The son of a Class III railway employee, Baksh, a house surgeon at KIMS, is described as being a meritorious student. Like Asif, Baksh's medical education has also been supported by loans. He was arrested nearly a fortnight after the others when he was found to have been a part of group meetings around north Karnataka.

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