Patna: A team of state police and National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers camping in Bihar's Gopalganj district are investigating a larger conspiracy by terrorist organisation Lashkar -e-Taiba to build sleeper cells in the state.
According to police sources, NIA sleuths have come to know that Lashkar operative Abu Nayeem Sheikh, who was arrested from Lucknow on November 29, was in close contact with Dhannu Raja alias Bedar Bakht, a resident of Ward number 1, Saraiya under Gopalganj police station, who was also nabbed on November 30.
"Nayeem Sheikh, an associate of 26/11 mastermind Abu Jundal and an active Lashkar agent was living in Gopalganj till March 2017. He was trying to expand his network among the local youths and came in contact with Dhannu Raja and indoctrinated him," a senior police officer told News18.
Nayeem Sheikh’s arrest in Lucknow led to the unmasking of Dhannu Raja, who was posing as the NSUI District Secretary so far. Abu Nayeem had also confessed to have procured vital information about troop movement in Kashmir and a hydro power project in Himachal Pradesh.
Abu Nayeem came to Gopalganj in 2015 and introduced himself as Suhail Khan. He would always name different cities in Maharashtra when asked about his origin. He befriended one Prashant Kumar Rai who lives in Banjari area of the district and Abu Nayeem alias Suhail enrolled in an English speaking coaching centre in Jadopur Road. However, he was fluent in English but had the knowledge of computer networks and Internet.
File photo of Abu Nayeem. (Image: Mukesh Kumar/News18)
Soon, he started a coaching centre by the name of Smart Learner, along with Prashant Rai. Investigators are looking at the investments behind this project.
Meanwhile, Abu Nayeem impersonated to be local resident Mohammad Ali, resident of ward number 19, and secured a PAN card, an Aadhaar Card and Passport in his name. He also managed to get a fake Masters degree from J.P. University.
Dhannu Raja, impressed by Abu Nayeem, started preaching Islam to the locals. Dhannu even helped him get a house on rent in Purnai Chauk area. When News18 visited this residence, Eid Mohammad, the landlord said he was not aware of Abu Nayeem alias Suhail Khan's true identity.
Mohammad said Nayeem was living with a girl who has gone missing ever since.
Police said Abu Nayeem opened a bank account with the Indian Bank branch in Thave area of the district.
It was only in March this year that doubts were raised after Mohammad Ali received a passport by post, which he had never applied for. Soon after, Abu Nayeem fled the district.
"The NIA is trying to piece together the sequence of events which could lead to more arrests," Gopalganj Superintendent of Police Mrityunjay Kumar Chaudhary told News18.
Abu Nayeem's acquaintance, Prashant Rai was also summoned to Delhi by the NIA, for questioning. Prashant’s father Upendra Kumar confirmed this development to News18 and said his son was made to sit with Abu Nayeem at the NIA office for interrogation.
"My son is innocent. He was not aware that Suhail Khan (as Prashant knew Abu Nayeem) was linked to a terrorist organisation," Upendra said.