NEW DELHI: The Special Investigating Team (SIT) of the Delhi Police has not ruled out the possibility of the involvement of a terror module in unleashing the horrific violence of 23-24 February in Northeast Delhi in which 53 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.

Sources have confirmed to this newspaper that the SIT is investigating the possible terror links of the rioters, as in December 2018, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had busted a deadly terror network from the same area—Seelampur and Jafrabad—where the riots took place.

After a series of raids were conducted at Seelampur and Jafrabad in Delhi and Amroha, Lucknow and Hapur in Uttar Pradesh, the NIA, in December 2018, busted a sleeper cell module active in the area. The NIA also recovered 12 pistols, 150 rounds of ammunition, 120 alarm clocks, 100 mobile phones, 135 mobile SIM cards and around 25 kg of potassium nitrate, potassium chlorate, sulphur paste and sugar.

Prima facie, the SIT is probing the Northeast Delhi violence from the angle of communal riots, but sources close to the team say that the terror module angle is being investigated with all seriousness.

The reason the SIT is investigating the possible involvement of a terror module, is because of the mass use of guns for killing people. One-third of the total 53 deaths were because of bullet injuries.

So far, the death toll in the violence has risen to 53 (44 at GTB hospital, five at RML hospital, three at LNJP hospital and one at Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital) and over 300 people injured, out of whom 15 people were killed by bullets and 95 people sustained bullet injuries.

A source close to the SIT told The Sunday Guardian: “No doubt, from drugs to gun-running, from prostitution to betting, Northeast Delhi has turned into a den of crime. The influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the area and their involvement in petty crimes and with terror outfits is not hidden from anyone and this is perhaps the reason why SIT is not ruling out their active role in fuelling the violent riots.”

“The SIT has found the involvement of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in some of the killings in general and in the killing of Ankit Sharma, the Intelligence Bureau personnel, in particular. The SIT has identified as many as 50 illegal Bangladeshis who incited violence in Seelmpur, Chand Bagh and Jafrabad and the agency is probing if these men have any ties with terror groups,” said the same source.

A senior intelligence officer said the riots showed the inactivity of the ground administration which would take action on the basis of intelligence reports. “Despite having indication about the presence of terror modules and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants working as sleeper cells in the Seelampur and Jafrabad areas, and in spite of having seized huge weapons, Delhi Police did not keep an eye on the area, which gave the goons the courage to do what they did,” the official said.

“In December 2018, the huge haul of weapons by the NIA from Seelampur and the nearby Jafrabad revealed the level of preparation of the terror suspects. NIA had clearly informed the police that the accused were preparing to make pipe bombs and remote-controlled bombs to carry out attacks at multiple targets, but no one carried out any sanitisation process of the area, which is shocking,” the same official cited above told The Sunday Guardian.

Sources close to SIT have confirmed that it has arrested two people, suspected to be illegal Bangladeshi immigrants for their alleged involvement in perpetrating violence and distributing country-made weapons to miscreants in Northeast Delhi. Investigation is also on to access information if foreign funding was used for inciting the riots. Initial investigation has revealed that funds were also collected through gun-running and drug peddling.

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