Madhya Pradesh: Three held for ‘role in Pakistan-based terror funding syndicate’

Milind Ghatwai
The ATS has booked the trio under Section 123 of IPC (Concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war).

The anti-terror squad (ATS) of Madhya Pradesh Police on Thursday secured the custody of three persons, who were detained by the Satna police on Wednesday, for being part of an alleged terror funding syndicate being operated from Pakistan.

One of three accused, Balram Singh, had been arrested in February 2017 in a similar case but was released on bail a few months ago. After lying low for some time, Singh revived the racket again by training some other youths, the police claimed.

Five suspects, including Balram, Sunil Singh and Shubham Mishra, were on Wednesday picked up by Satna Police, who also seized their mobile phones after receiving a specific tip-off that they were in regular touch with people based in Pakistan. While three have been arrested by the ATS, the other two are still being questioned.

Satna SP Riaz Iqbal told The Indian Express that prima facie it is a case of terror funding. He said

Balram had allegedly introduced new people to his handlers in Pakistan and they were regularly in touch through WhatsApp calls and messages.

Balram, Sunil and Shubham had sent details of their bank accounts and ATM cards as also of their accomplices, police said. They were allegedly transferring money to certain accounts on the directions of their Pakistani handlers. They usually took care to ensure that transactions were under Rs 50,000, police said.

The police have collected details of more than 25 bank accounts where transactions related to the racket were allegedly taking place. The police believe the accused got amounts between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 everyday as commission.

Money to these accounts was being transferred from parts of India, police said. Those part of the racket get commission for allegedly parking and transferring money from their accounts and the ATS will question the suspects to establish the money trail.

Balram, who used to attend Bajrang Dal events in Satna, Shubham and Sunil have criminal antecedents. The police claimed they had kept Balram under watch after he was released on bail, and he chose not to operate directly but involved new persons who were not on the police radar before.

The ATS has booked the trio under Section 123 of IPC (Concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war).

The police said those detained were probably not involved in espionage or terror activities but were used by their Pakistan handlers to transfer money to people involved in illegal activities.

In 2017, the ATS had picked up 11 suspects, including Balram Singh, from Satna, Gwalior, Bhopal and Jabalpur in connection with a racket that involved running parallel exchanges to route international calls through the Internet to make them appear as local calls. The action had followed some arrests in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh a few months before.

The police said telephone numbers of some Pakistani handlers are the same as those in the 2017 case.