NIA officers learn Urdu, Arabic to help in counter-terrorism measures

Kolkata: The officers of National Investigating Agency are learning Urdu, Arabic and Persian to counter the growing influence of terrorist organizations like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in the eastern region.

The necessity to have the basic knowledge of Arabic, Urdu and Persian was first realised after the Khagragh Blast incident in West Bengal’s Birbhum district in 2014. The NIA, which was handed over the responsibility to investigate the incident, faced problems when they stumbled upon large amount of literature in Persian, Urdu and Arabic language.

“After Khagragh blast in 2014 a large number of pamphlets and literature were recovered which were in Urdu and Arabic language. At that time we faced a lot of problems as our officers working at the ground level hardly had any knowledge of these languages.

“We had to look for experts to understand what was written on these materials. It was then realized that the officers need to have at least an elementary knowledge about these languages,” a senior NIA official who was part of Khagarh blast investigation told PTI.

“Our officers and investigators know English, Hindi and their own mother tongue. But the knowledge of an extra language would give us a edge in our counter-terrorism measures,” a NIA official said.

Then NIA SP posted in Kolkata, Vikram Khalate, wrote to Calcutta University requesting them to make arrangements for language training classes for officers in Urdu, Arabic and Persian as the agency at times was finding it difficult to find translators.

“Earlier this year NIA got in touch with our university and requested us to provide us with professors. From the month of May this year their language training has started,” Calcutta University, PRO-VC (Academic) Swagata Sen told PTI.

According to the Head of the Department of Arabic and Persian Language, Calcutta University, M Ishrat Ali Molla, who is heading the training program of the officers said once a week a language training session is taking place at the NIA Campus.

“This training will continue for one year and if they want it can be further extended. In these few months we have completed the basic training of identification of letters and Arabic syntax. Now the training of construction of sentence has started. We have a team of three professors who are imparting this training,” Molla said.

According to NIA and state police sources, unemployed youths are being roped in by handlers of terror groups like ISIS and JMB to expand their networks in border districts of West Bengal.

“Apart from literature, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp are also being used to attract youth. Most of the time the messages and the text are in Urdu or Arabic apart from Bengali. So language training will help us in many ways,” an official said.

According to officials, the handlers communicate with their leaders mostly based either in Syria, Iraq or Bangladesh through the social media like Facebook and also via WhatsApp and other messengers.

The recent arrest of 25-year-old Mohammed Musiruddin has exposed the presence of the terror group in the state, particularly in the districts bordering Bangladesh, including Burdwan.

Burdwan district entered the terror map in October 2014 when two suspected JMB terrorists were killed while making improvised explosive devices at a rented house at Khagragarh.

In fact, NIA in its supplementary chargesheet in connection with the Khagragarh blast had claimed that JMB had been recruiting youths from the border districts of West Bengal. The JMB wants to established Sharia rule by overthrowing the democratically-elected government in Bangladesh, the NIA had stated in its charge sheet.