After four major train accidents in three months that have left over 200 people dead and several hundreds injured, security agencies, including the National Investigative Agency (NIA), are trying to put together a bewildering maze of clues which include at least two mysterious murders in Nepal last year, recovery of an unexploded Improvised Explosive Device (IED) from a rail track in East Champaran last October, and an alleged confession of possible involvement of Pakistan's ISI.
All this is apparently connected through an intricate underworld web which had a cell in New Delhi that ran a travel agency, a man in Nepal and one in Karachi.
The recovery of a powerful unexploded IED from rail tracks in Chmaparan last October fell through the cracks, top security officials told HuffPost India, till three suspected underworld operatives — Moti Paswan, Uma Shankar Yadav and Mukesh Yadav — were arrested by the Bihar Police. In their confession they allegedly told the police that the Indore-Patna Express that was derailed on November 21, 2016, leaving 148 people dead, had been sabotaged. The planning was done in Nepal.
They also allegedly confessed to have received money to blow up train tracks from a one Brij Kishore Giri, based in Nepal. Security agencies rushed to Nepal.
"Arun and Deepak Ram — both resident of Raxaul — took money but failed plant the IED. As punishment they were called to Nepal and their throats were slit. The two bodies were found dumped in a car," a top security officer handling counter-terrorism told HuffPost India.
The car in which the bodies were found belonged to Giri, yet another man suspected to be with the underworld and involved in smuggling across the border. When he was questioned by the Nepal police, out popped a shadowy Dubai-based businessman. Call record analysis of businessman Shamshul Hooda led the agencies to Karachi and the city-based suspected underworld operative Shafi.
And, to the horror of security agencies, Zia it turns out, had got himself and several others Indian passports. Just how many people Zia helped to get Indian documents is being investigated.
"Shafi has been on our watch list for many years," a senior officer working in the counter-terrorism unit said. Shafi, as per Indian records have been involved in printing and distributing fake Indian currency. "We have also reports that suggest he has trying to use his network to transport explosives into India," the officer said.
More surprises were in store for the investigators. Following the Hoda's trail, sleuths reached a travel agency. Zia, the person running it, turned out to be Hooda's nephew. And, to the horror of security agencies, Zia it turns out, had got himself and several others Indian passports. Just how many people Zia helped to get Indian documents is being investigated.
Using the Indian underworld to smuggle in explosives or fake currency isn't new. Nepal too has been used to launch terror attacks on India. But what is worrying security agencies is the recruitment of local boys. "From what we know so far, it seems that there is an attempt to use the local underground, but we still don't have exact idea of how big and how vast the network in India is" the officer said.
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