By Vicky Nanjappa
A recent alert from the Union home ministry indicating that the Students Islamic Movement of India is on the verge of re-grouping has put police officers across the country on alert.
Currently, law enforcement agents are on the hunt for 80 SIMI activists who they believe are crucial for the outfit to re-group.
While Uttar Pradesh continues to be a major hub for SIMI cadres, the worry for security agencies are pockets in Kerala and Karnataka.
Sources in the Intelligence Bureau point out that some crucial operatives from the Lucknow and Azamgarh regions in Uttar Pradesh have moved to south India and are looking to re-group there.
The IB sources believe the Indian Mujahideen, the home-grown terror outfit, could merge its cadres with SIMI.
IB sources believe Iqbal Bhatkal, Asadullah Akthar, Abdul Kareem, Karman, Akthar Kareem Amil Parwai, Alla Baksh, Sageer, Mohamad Sadiq, Irshad Khan, Sadiq Anwar and Hafiz Asif are among the individuals who could play a vital role in the regrouping of SIMI-IM cadres.
Most of these individuals hail from UP and have gone missing from the state. Most of them are suspected of having moved to Karnataka or Kerala.
While the SIMI’s presence is lower in Karnataka, the problem is Kerala. IB sources say Kerala continues to be the biggest headache for law enforcement authorities after Uttar Pradesh.
The IB sources add it was obvious that SIMI would choose Kerala over other states considering the political support it enjoys there.
Despite periodic crackdowns and a ban, SIMI has never halted its activities. Its cadres continued supporting IM members with logistical support and funds.
SIMI conducts its activities under the cover of nearly 12 different outfits in Kerala. The IB believes Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kondotty near Mallapuram are hubs of SIMI activity.
SIMI cadres have over the years set up religious centres and social service organisations in these areas and under the guise of running these networks they have spread their ideology — governing life on Islamic principles; propagation of Islam; and jihad for the cause of Islam.
SIMI is also a fractured organisation; the IB sources say the Safdar Nagori faction which broke away from SIMI conducts jihadi activity.
The other faction remains silent and continues to fight the government’s ban on the organisation. The extremist Nagori faction has maintained that waging war against India is its only goal.
Kerala, which goes to the polls next month, will be the epicentre of SIMI’s activities in the weeks to come.
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