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Terror

A New Year Reminder

Terrorist Attack on CRPF Camp at Rampur in UP kills eight and raises fresh possibilities about the HUJI having an Indian branch with Indian operatives

A New Year Reminder
A New Year Reminder
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Seven members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and one civilian were reported to have been killed between 2 and 3 AM on January 1, 2008, when a group of four unidentified terrorists, reportedly armed with AK-47 rifles and hand-grenades, attacked a camp of the CRPF at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh.

According to Shri Brij Lal, Additional Director-General of Police in charge of Law & Order, the terrorists opened fire killing two CRPF men and hurled grenades while entering the camp. In the firing inside the premises, five CRPF jawans, who were sleeping, were killed.

Since March, 1993, there have been periodic incidents of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir. While the majority of these incidents involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and were directed at civilians and other soft targets, there have been instances of attacks on security forces personnel with hand-held weapons. Examples: Attacks on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001, on the security guards outside the US Consulate in Kolkata in January, 2002, on the security forces personnel guarding the Akshardam Temple in Ahmedabad in September, 2002, at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh in July, 2005, and on scientists attending a conference in Bangalore in December, 2005.

The Rampur attack of January 1, 2008, was on a well-protected hard target of a central police force and avoided indiscriminate killing of civilians. The attack seems to have been well-planned and executed with the objective of achieving maximum public impact with minimum civilian casualties.

On November 23, 2007, 13 persons were killed in seven well-synchronised attacks with IEDs near courts in three different cities of Uttar Pradesh--Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad. An e-mail received by some sections of the media coinciding with the attacks claimed responsibility for the attacks as well as for some of the previous incidents of terrorism in different parts of India on behalf of what it described as the "Indian Mujahideen". The e-mail said: "We are not any foreign Mujahideen. We are purely Indian." It warned: "Our next target will be the Indian Police."

The UP Police are since reported to have detained some Indians on suspicion of having been involved in these explosions. They have been described as members of the  Harkat-ul-Jihad--Al-Islami (HUJI). The HUJI has its headquarters in Pakistan and an active branch in Bangladesh. In the past too, the HUJI had been involved in terrorist strikes in different parts of India. The dramatis personae came from Pakistan and/or Bangladesh with some Indian involvement.

From the indications available so far, the November 23, 2007, strikes with IEDs would appear to have been carried out by Indian cells of the HUJI with only Indians as members. If this is proved by further investigation, the HUJI possibly now has an Indian branch with Indian operatives, capable of carrying out terrorist strikes autonomously without too much dependence on their counter-parts in Pakistan and Bangladesh. There is a possibility that the Rampur strike might have also been carried out by the same organisation, which had carried out the explosions of November 23, 2007. If so, the fact that the arrests made by the UP Police during the investigation of the November 23 strikes did not disrupt or prevent the attack at Rampur, would indicate that the organisation has a wider network of clandestine cells in UP than detected so far.


B. Raman  is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.

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