What’s Behind the NIA Order In Assam JMB Terrorists Case?

Six members of the terror outfit were sentenced to jail by an NIA court in July.

3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The banned outfit was sought to be revived for waging jihad and as a shield against the Bodo community.</p></div>

The banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which had already betrayed signs of extinction in Assam, was sought to be revived on the alibi of waging jihad and as a shield against the Bodo community. A chargesheet submitted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against six members of the outfit, who were sentenced to different jail terms in Assam, had said that the terror outfit had made an attempt at “regrouping again to fight against the Bodo people and for protection of Muslim community”. An NIA court pronounced its judgment in the case on 27 July this year, a copy of which was made available to this journalist recently.

The investigating agency based its conclusions on the statements given by Hanif Mia and Hafizur Rahman, both of whom were also convicted by the NIA court in Guwahati. The judgment quoted excerpts from the chargesheet, which was replete with the statements given by the accused.


Gathering Funds & Weapons

The JMB module in Assam came to light after the arrest of Hafizur Rahman in Barpeta two years ago and the confiscation of a country-made pistol and several rounds of live ammunition from his residence. Subsequently, on the basis of the information provided by him, the rest of the five members were apprehended from the same district.

The entire plot was unearthed after the arrest of Sahanur Alom for involvement in the blast at West Bengal’s Burdwan in 2014. All the accused were recruited into JMB by Alom, who also hails from Barpeta.

The judgement, which runs into 39 pages, mentions that the accused had made efforts to gathers funds, weapons and expand the cadre base of JMB for ‘jihad’ and for resisting the atrocities inflicted upon the community.

The growth of JMB came on the heels of the devastating riots at the twin districts of Chirang and Kokrajhar in western Assam in 2012, when some sections belonging to both the Bodo and Bengal-origin Muslims clashed with each other, resulting in the death of at least 19 persons and displacement of 35,000 who were lodged in relief camps.

The Old & Neo-JMB

In 2014, Assam had figured in a message from Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, which was meant to ‘raise the flag of jihad’ in South Asia.

The accused who have been charge-sheeted hail from the community of Bengal-origin Muslims in Assam settled in different districts of the state. Before the birth of JMB in Assam, there were Islamist organisations, such as the Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam (MULTA,) which could not survive beyond a few years due to dearth of funds and functionaries.

The JMB, as the name suggests, originated in Bangladesh in 1998 and split into the ‘old JMB’ and ‘neo-JMB’ factions, with the former continuing its allegiance to al-Qaeda and the latter to the ISIS. Eventually, it was the neo-JMB that gained prominence with its terrorist acts since 2013 in Bangladesh.

A statement by the government in Parliament in 2019 revealed that as many as 59 functionaries of JMB were arrested in Assam over the last five years out of a total of 120 in the entire country.

However, police and security agencies believe that it is the neo-JMB that has been making serious efforts to expand its base in Assam. State police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta was quoted as saying that the police was gearing up to “counter the menace” in the state.

(Rajeev Bhattacharyya is a senior journalist in Assam. Views expressed are personal. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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