Lucknow: A war of words broke out between political parties Tuesday after Delhi Police claimed that a Pakistan-backed terrorist outfit allegedly scouted for recruits among the riot victims in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP, the Congress and Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party sparred after police sources said they had stumbled upon evidence about a visit to refugee camps in Muzaffarnagar by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) activists.
Delhi Police were not categorical about the alleged recruitment effort. But police sources told IANS that the LeT did try to rope in youths in the camps housing victims of the September riots in Muzaffarnagar.
Delhi Police said they were looking for some LeT operatives after arresting two men from Mewat in Haryana who admitted to visiting Deoband and Muzaffarnagar.
“This is a very serious matter that imperils the internal security of the country,” Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.
“What is even more a matter of concern is that security agencies in the state and in New Delhi do not seem to be in tandem with the findings,” he added.
Added BJP national president Rajnath Singh: “The issue should be probed and taken very seriously.”
More than 60 people were killed and thousands fled their homes following Hindu-Muslim violence in Muzaffarnagar in September.
According to Special Commissioner of Police S.N. Srivastava in Delhi, Md Rashid — one of the two arrested — went with a LeT member to Deoband and met a 58-year-old school teacher.
The teacher took Rashid and his accomplice to another man, Zameer. Rashid told Zameer that they wanted to kidnap people to raise money to construct a mosque. But Zameer backed off.
The Congress also billed the matter as serious and recalled that its vice president Rahul Gandhi had hinted at such efforts months ago.
“Rahulji had quoted an intelligence official as saying that there were attempts by the ISI to recruit disgruntled youngsters who survived the riots,” a Congress leader said.
“What Rahul Gandhi had said about terrorist groups trying to recruit the Muzaffarnagar riot victims is true and has been reinforced,” said Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
State Congress president Nirmal Khatri said the state government must take a serious view of the whole matter and ensure speedy justice to those who survived the horrific violence.
The Samajwadi Party said it had not heard of any visit by any terrorist operative to the riot victims’ camps.
“We have no such reports. In case what Delhi Police is saying is true, action should be taken,” the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal said.
Uttar Pradesh officials said Delhi Police had not shared any details of the reported arrests made by them.
Anil Kumar Gupta, the principal secretary in charge of home affairs, said: “The intelligence agencies in the state are not in the know of any such developments.”
Rahul Gandhi had in an election speech Oct 28 at Indore claimed that an intelligence official told him that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI was trying to recruit people from camps in Muzaffarnagar.
Many, including Muslim leaders, had then termed the statement as “irresponsible”.