Probe into Kerala SIMI camp began before Gujarat blasts: Minister


Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Wednesday said that a special anti-terror squad would be formed in the state, and reiterated that Kerala has begun a probe into a training camp the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) held in 2007 in Kottayam district much before the Ahmedabad blasts.

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The special squad would be headed by Additional Director General of Police Siby Mathew, Balakrishnan told reporters after a review law and order meeting attended by top state police officials.

Asked whether the Kerala police got to know about the SIMI training camp held in December 2007 in Wagamon in Kottayam only after the Gujarat police said so following the Ahmedabad serial blasts, the minister stressed that investigations into the camp had begun much earlier.

After the alleged Ahmedabad blasts mastermind Mufti Abdul Bashir’s arrest Aug 16, the Gujarat police said the SIMI activists behind the July 26 bombings were trained at Wagamon. But Superintendent of Police (Kottayam) A.M. Mathew Policarp said that investigations into the camp had begun in June.

Minister Balakrishnan added that Kerala’s strategy in tackling terror was different from Gujarat and that hounding Muslims was not the solution.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat has political interests in saying that (Kerala didn’t know about the camp) because they want us to haunt the Muslim community here. We don’t function like them,” he said.

“We already had registered the case on that meet of SIMI activists in Wagamon, but the media did not know about it. We are on the job of keeping a close watch on all those people and groups that are associated with SIMI,” Balakrishnan added.

He stressed that Kerala was in no way a haven for terrorists.

“It is only a very minor section in the Muslim community in Kerala that support terrorist activities,” the minister said.

It was also decided at the meet that the Kerala Police Act would now be strictly enforced. The act clearly bans weapons training by groups or political and social organisations unless proir permission is sought from the police.

“Those who do this without permission will be behind bars for three years,” said Balakrishnan.

He added: “From police statistics we have come to know that the Muslim outfit – the National Development Front – in the last one year has been involved in 101 cases of attacking others. Of this, CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) activists were attacked on 51 occasions. We have decided to keep a watch on their activities closely,” said Balakrishnan.