India: Muslim preacher arrested for indoctrinating youth to join jihad

Nagpur: A young religious preacher (maulana) Hafiz Mujibar Rehman alias Salim Malik, has been arrested from Mendhiya masjid of Pusad in Yavatmal district on Sunday in a joint operation by State Anti-terrorist squad (ATS) of Nanded and Akola. He was alleged involved in indoctrinating youths to join the ‘jihad’ or holy war through social media and sermons. He has been remanded to custody by a special court in Nagpur on Monday till November 12.

Sources from the intelligence wing said Maulana Rehman’s name had cropped up in the interrogation of Abdul Malik Abdul Razzaq, who had attacked three cops from State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) with a sharp weapon outside Mendhiya mosque on Eid-ul-Azha on September 25. He had also raised slogans against the government for banning beef.

Superintendent of police, ATS, rest of Maharashtra, Sunil Kolhe said such instigators are misleading youngsters to join antigovernment activities, jeopardizing their lives and any career. “Security agencies are working round the clock to track down such instigators and brainwashed youths bent on creating havoc in society,” he said.

ATS and other intelligence wings are now trying to find links between Malik and Shoaeb Khan, alias Pusad Shoaeb, and Shah Muddassir, who were arrested by Hyderabad police for their role in provoking youngsters to join jihadi culture as a holy practice in October last year. Khan and Muddassir, both from Maharashtra, had gone to meet a financier in Hyderabad, who was supposed to help them to cross over to Afghanistan to train under the al-Qaida.

Muddassir, who owned grocery shop at Umarkhed, was former member of Shaheen Force, which is the children wing of banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). After SIMI was banned, Mudassir joined a front organization. Shoaeb is learnt to be close to Mansoor Ali Peerbhoy, who was linked to Pune module of Indian Mujahideen (IM). Mudassir and Shoaeb were in close touch with a Pakistan-based group on social media and used to chat about jihad and triggering blasts in Maharashtra.

Shoaeb too was produced, along with Rehman, before the court. The court has extended Khan’s custody till November 5. Malik, a BSc student who is also enrolled in the computer stream of ITI, is learnt to have revealed that Rehman and Khan exposed him to the ‘jihadi’ videos and other instigating materials, leading him to embrace hardline view for religious purposes. Sources in ATS said that a lot of literature was found in the possession of Rehman and Malik along with some electronic evidence.