Representative image of a Delhi policeman. Photograph: (AFP)
The Delhi Police Special Cell and Uttar Pradesh anti-terror squad (ATS) have arrested three suspected Islamic State operatives from Jalandhar (Punjab), Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Bijnor (Uttar Pradesh). Raids were also carried out in and Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh) and Narkatiaganj (Bihar). Police from six states were part of the operation.
Special Cell Delhi Police, Uttar Pradesh (UP) ATS, Crime Investigation Department (CID) Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra ATS, Punjab and Bihar Police were involved in the operation.
Speaking to the media from Lucknow, UP additional director general (law and order) Daljit Chaudhary told newswire PTI: "They were conspiring to carry out a major attack to make a name for their group and create terror in the region."
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) confirmed the arrest of a suspect, Nazim Shamshad Ahmed (26), who is from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. He was nabbed from the Mumbra township near Mumbai.
"Three persons were detained from Mumbra in a joint operation of Maharashtra Police and Uttar Pradesh ATS. One of them has been arrested for his suspected involvement in terror activities. The other two are being questioned," Maharashtra ATS chief Atulchandra Kulkarni told PTI.
While the UP ATS spokesperson said that six others have been detained by the police team for questioning, Maharashtra ATS sources said nearly 12 were taken into custody.
Those arrested are suspected to be part of a module that was looking for potential recruits in Bihar, UP and Maharashtra.
Chaudhary told reporters that the agencies have established evidence against four of the suspected, while five others were being interrogated.
"All those arrested are between 18 and 25 years old and were living in places like Mumbai, Jalandhar and UP. We have also found that they were definitely influenced by the material available on the internet," he said.
He said these appear to be misguided youth and efforts will be made to bring them back into the mainstream.
Investigations show that one of them wanted to finance the group and they were continuously communicating with each other about carrying out some major strike in the near future. The arrests were made before they could carry out any such attack after the police of different states tracked their conversations using surveillance.
The ADG ruled out any link between those arrested today with a suspected terrorist killed in an encounter in Lucknow recently.
Indian media outlets, citing sources in the ATS, said one of the accused is a 26-year-old suspected of being an Islamic State recruiter from Mumbra, in Mumbai, and that several SIM cards were taken from his house by the authorities.
(WION with inputs from agencies)
The suspects from Jalandhar, Mumbai and Bijnor were arrested in the joint operation. An investigation is currently underway