The police suspicions were based on interrogations of the arrested accused— Naziur Rahaman Pavel (22) alias Joyram Byapari, Mikail Khan alias Sk Sabbir (30) and Rabiul Islam (22) — who claimed to have been in touch with Haridevpur resident Selim Munshi. He passed himself off as an umbrella and fruit trader and had kept changing his address, moving from one rented home to another, but never left Haridevpur for the past one-and-a-half decades. Munshi is missing. It was Munshi, who had arranged rooms for Pavel, Sabbir and Islam, whom he had introduced as his “friends from Murshidabad”, raising concern he might have ensured safe passage for other JMB extremists. One of the three were related to Munshi, police said.
The probe revealed another “linkman”, Sk Shakeel, had promised to get Aadhaar cards for the three. Shakeel, too, has gone missing. “It is certain the three arrested men received help locally,” said an STF officer. “Each phone number noted down in a seized diary is being checked.” The Jihadi literature are mostly in Bengali, suggesting the activities were limited to Bengal.
Though the arrested said they had been living there for 45 days, locals said at least Sabbir had been around for over eight months. “He claims to be here since June but many have seen him for longer,” claimed Jan Mohammad, a local. Sabbir was the social media expert, his primary job being recruitment and arranging funds. “He would always be online,” said an officer.
Pavel was a relative of JMB ideologue Al-Amin, who, along with JMB commander Nahid Tasnim, was currently in Kashimpur jail in Bangladesh.
Police said the accused came to Kolkata with two objectives: to raise funds and expand the organization. “Several JMB leaders are jailed in Bangladesh and the gang needs funds to release them. We are questioning the arrested to find if they were planning a strike,” said an officer. Bangladesh Counter Terrorism had said in April the main JMB had set up a robbery wing to raise funds. STF said it was grilling Pavel whether he had conducted a recce for a robbery.