Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Under attack for allegedly promoting militancy, the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is contemplating re-emerging under new names, according to high-level police sources.
The new SIMI may take shape as Teharik-e-Millat or Awaz-e-Sura, with a view to spreading its tentacles in Madhya Pradesh, the sources said.
SIMI's former Madhya Pradesh unit chief, Imran Ansari, had only last week given the police a slip in Indore town while being taken to a court from Khandwa town.
Ansari was later found addressing a meeting of SIMI sympathizers at a hotel. The police raided the place and re-arrested him. Some accounts say the policemen who brought him from Khandwa were in the vicinity of the hotel when the meeting was on.
'The former SIMI president was perhaps hatching a conspiracy. Another SIMI worker, Abdul Razzak, was also apprehended but others at the meeting are still at large,' the police said.
Said Indore's Superintendent of Police Anshuman Yadav: 'While Ansari and Razzak have been arrested, others including Gulrej and Akhtar alias Chand who attended the gathering are absconding.'
Yadav, however, denied knowledge of SIMI plans to change their names.
He said the police personnel who were with Ansari have been suspended on charges of dereliction of duty.
Police officials say Madhya Pradesh has seen a rise in SIMI activities despite a ban on the group.
Since it was outlawed in September 2001, SIMI has spread to new districts like Burhanpur, Guna, Neemuch and Shajapur. Before the ban it was restricted to the districts of Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Bhopal, with its state headquarters in Ujjain, police records indicate.
With this, SIMI has made its presence felt now in almost the whole of the Malwa region. Cases against it have also been registered in Sivni, Jabalpur and Sheopur districts.
Before the ban, 33 cases of spreading religious discord and treachery were registered against SIMI activists in various districts. Post-ban, more than 49 cases were registered.
SIMI national general secretary Safdar Nagauri had his base in the Hindu temple town of Ujjain, where the state headquarters was located, before the central government banned it, a police official said.
Safdar, an Ujjain resident in his 40s, is the son of retired assistant sub-inspector of police. 'He has been absconding since the ban,' a police officer said.
While the police are still searching for Safdar, some 25 suspected SIMI activists in Ujjain are under watch. Safdar's close associate Aamil Pervez is lodged at the Bhairugarh Central Jail in Ujjain.
Another SIMI office bearer, state secretary Muneer Uzzema, has fled Bhopal with his family after the July train bombings in Mumbai with which an unspecified number of SIMI members have been linked, the officer said.
A reward of Rs.3,000 has been announced for his capture.
Since the ban, 180 SIMI activists have been arrested from across the state including Indore, Ujjain, Bhopal, Khandwa, Seoni, Jabalpur, Sheopur, Burhanpur, Guna, Neemuch and Shajapur districts.
'It is not SIMI alone but the underworld have also joined hands. The police are keeping a close watch on all such elements,' said Sanjeev Kumar Singh, Bhopal's inspector general of police.
SIMI was just another Muslim body until the 1992 demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya and the 2002 anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat led the hardliners to break away.