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Kashmir to Kerala

Kashmir to Kerala

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: January 10, 2008

A seamless terror network exists

Kerala's Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan appears to be unfazed by the real extent of the threat posed by Hizb-ul Mujahideen operatives in the State. Or else he would not have suggested that extremists are travelling to God's Own Country for rest and recreation. The Minister would do well to reconsider his views and accept the ground reality in Kerala, with its Islamist organisations like NDF and PDP that affords ISI-trained terror operatives from Jammu & Kashmir to park themselves without being detected. One of them escaped detection for seven long years, posing as a trader. Mr Balakrishnan, a leading light of the CPI(M) in Kerala, might not be able to publicly admit the actual threat posed by the likes of Altaf Ahmed Khan, the Hizb-ul operative arrested in scenic Kumili town, because of his party's close association with Islamist outfits with an extremist agenda. But intelligence inputs make it abundantly clear that scenic beauty is not what lures Altaf Ahmed Khan and his ilk to Kerala. There is a clear ideological link and operational bridge between Kashmiri Islamists and those who share their hate agenda in Kerala.

That Altaf Ahmed Khan had been living in Kumili for the last seven years, untouched by the police despite several tip-offs from competent sources, raises serious questions about the commitment of both the Congress and the CPI(M) in combating Islamist extremism. It is obvious that what is lacking is political will, for intelligence agencies in the State as well as at the Centre have been untiring in their effort to draw attention to this festering problem. Islamists in Kerala are well entrenched in the political system of the State and this ensures safety and patronage, both for themselves as well as their compatriots from other States. In the clamour of competitive communalism to pander to the Islamists in the hope of garnering Muslim votes -- witness the manner in which the Congress and the CPI(M) have gone out of their way to secure the support of Abdul Nasser Madani, who never got his just desserts for the Coimbatore bombings -- there seems to be a consensus across the political spectrum to turn a blind eye to the alarming spread of radical Islam. Its implications are lost on those whose responsibility it is to protect Kerala's -- and India's -- interests. The recent arrest of Altaf Ahmed Khan shows that Islamists have established a network of sleeper cells and hideouts, far away from the prying eyes of security agencies. Who would have thought that Kashmiri terrorists on the run would seek and find refuge in Kerala? More alarmingly, who knows how many terrorists have been provided with refuge?

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