The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a special court on Monday named 21 people, formally charged with involvement in the Burdwan blast case, for conspiring to overthrow the existing democratic government in Bangladesh.
In a charge sheet filed before an NIA special court, the agency said the 21 people, accused in the Bardwan blast case, were involved in the conspiracy of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), an outlawed terrorist outfit in Bangladesh, to overthrow the Dhaka government.
The agency named four Bangladeshi nationals among the 21 it charge sheeted. Of the 21, the agency has so far arrested 13 while eight others are untraced and on the run.
“The charge sheet has been filed against 21 individuals – including four Bangladeshi nationals – for their involvement in the conspiracy of JMB, a proscribed terrorist organisation in Bangladesh, to overthrow the existing democratic government in Bangladesh through violent terrorist acts and replace it with a hardline Sharia-based Islamic rule,” an NIA officer said.
The accidental blast took place in a house in Khagragarh in Burdwan district on October 2, killing two JMB militants and injuring another.
Taking up the probe on October 10, the NIA has arraigned 32 people as accused in the case.
NIA counsel Shyamal Ghosh said all the 21 accused have been individually charged with a number of offences, including being members of a terrorist gang, commission of terrorist acts, conspiracy, recruitment and funding of terrorist outfit, organising training camps, and possession of arms, ammunition and explosive substances.
While the NIA has arrested 18 people, Ghosh explained that two of those arrested have been discharged from the present case as the investigations have not revealed their involvement. Three others currently in custody have not yet been named in the charge sheet.
The two discharged from the case include Myanmar national Khalid Mohammed, who was arrested from Hyderabad last year for alleged links with the JMB.
“More than 250 witnesses were examined and around 100 searches were conducted in large number of places across the states of West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand, leading to seizures of huge volumes of documents, computers, explosives, chemicals, arms and ammunition, and other incriminating materials,” counsel said.
The agency has claimed that its investigation showed that the JMB had established its network in many districts – particularly in Murshidabad, Nadia, Malda, Birbhum and Burdwan in Bengal, Barpeta in Assam, and Sahibganj and Pakur in Jharkhand.
“A network of terrorist training camps at selected madrasas and other hideouts was found to be in operation where selected youths were indoctrinated into the violent jihadi ideology as well as trained for violent action by using explosives and firearms.”
Members of JMB undertook the effort to recruit, radicalise, and train vulnerable youths for preparing a large group of Indians – based on their common religious and linguistic identity, primarily in the states bordering Bangladesh – to join the JMB, and utilise them for the movement to overthrow the existing democratic government in Bangladesh, the NIA said.