ISI ‘linking’ to Maoists; Security agencies worried

(IANS) Pakistan’s covert operations agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has forged deadly links with Maoists through overground radicals and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists not just in West Bengal but the rest of India too, according to Indian security agencies.

This information was shared among police and civilian officials from nine Maoist-infested states who met in the national capital earlier this month to review the anti-Maoist security operations and progress of development works in backward areas of their respective states.

West Bengal’s Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee had reportedly told the meeting that “though Maoists were facing all-round reverses what was emerging were signs of a growing link between them and Pakistan’s ISI, with clear evidence in this regard emerging from four districts of the state bordering Bangladesh.”

Murshidabad, West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura are the four districts, he was quoted as having said at the meet.

A worried Mukherjee is said to have informed of the “growing nexus”, which came to light after some Maoists were arrested from these districts and they revealed about overground sympathisers of leftwing extremists establishing ties with Pakistan’s spy agency.

“Not just in West Bengal, elements having ISI links are joining forces with overt outfits of Maoists. We have also witnessed the participation of members of the banned SIMI in protest marches and events organised by Maoists and their sympathisers in other parts of the country, including at Jantar Mantar in Delhi (the venue of all protests),” a government official, with knowledge of such developments, told IANS here.

Mukherjee’s revelations at the review meeting at the home ministry came even as there has been a “remarkable improvement” in countering leftwing extremists in West Bengal. It also came over a fortnight after then Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) director general K. Vijay Kumar last month appreciated the Mamata Banerjee government for the “cooperation extended to the security forces’ operations” to counter the Maoists.

India’s security and intelligence agencies have talked of a possible link between ISI and Maoist sympathisers in recent months, but Mukherjee’s revelations are the first-ever made in such definitive terms. They have also spoken about Maoist support to terror groups such as those operating in Kashmir.

In recent months, Karnataka police have also talked of having credible inputs of ISI using Indian mafia don Dawood Ibrahim, who currently lives in Pakistan, and his aide Chhota Shakeel, to establish links with Maoists in India.