Probe into SIMI camp in Kerala began in June: police

August 17th, 2008 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  


Kottayam, Aug 17 (IANS) The Kerala police Sunday said it had begun investigations two months back into a training camp organised in December 2007 by the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in Kottayam district. After the alleged Ahmedabad blasts mastermind Mufti Abdul Bashr’s arrest Saturday, the Gujarat police had said the SIMI activists behind the July 26 bombings were trained at Wagamon in Kottayam. But police here say that they knew about the camp earlier.

“In June, we had registered a case and started investigating into the training camp conducted in December. Two SIMI activists, natives of Eerattupetta near Wagamon, who took part in the training camp were arrested in Madhya Pradesh. We also know about one more Keralite who took part in the camp,” Superintendent of Police (Kottayam) A.M. Mathew Policarp told IANS.

The place where the training camp was held is known as Thangalpara, a rocky terrain accessible only by foot. It is also a pilgrim centre and a tourist spot.

Two SIMI activists, natives of Eerattupetta - Abdul Shibly, a computer engineer, and his brother Shaduli - were arrested in Indore in Madhya Pradesh last March.

“It may be at their instance that SIMI organised their camp at Wagamon. The Kerala police intends to question them to get details about their activities here,” the official said.

Policarp said police found it strange that those who attended the training camp had scribbled ‘SIMI’ on a rock at Thangalpara. “They scribbled it as though they wanted people to notice their activities.”

Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had also said Saturday night that the SIMI camp having been organised in Wagamon was not new information. He stressed that it was an isolated incident and did not mean that Kerala was turning into a training zone for terrorists.

Police officials say that Eerattupetta is a SIMI stronghold and the National Democratic Front (NDF), a rightwing Muslim organization.

Wagamon is on the border of Kottayam and Idukki district, a major tourist destination.

“We are keeping a close watch on people visiting the district. The forest cover and the hilly terrain could be the reason why they selected the spot for the training camp,” said Superintendent of Police (Idukki) S.K. Chellappan.

Bashr was held from Lucknow’s Moulviganj area Saturday and Gujarat police chief P.C. Pande said that the top SIMI leader had meticulously planned the July 26 serial blasts in Ahmedabad last in which 55 people were killed and over 150 injured.

Apart from Bashr, eight other SIMI activists have been held from Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, the official added.

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