Dharwad: Of the eight SIMI activists who were gunned down in an encounter in Bhopal on Monday, three are suspected to have had links with Dharwad.
They had stayed in a rented house here for five months in 2014, claiming to be cloth merchants, it is said. On seeing the photographs of the eight SIMI activists who were killed in the encounter, Shivaji Kulkarni, the owner of the house in Arogya Nagar (near Tejaswi Nagar), identified two persons – Mehboob Guddu and Zakir Hussain Sadiq. He could not, however, identify the third person. Panchappa Bidarakatti, who runs a paan shop, said the duo used to buy cigarettes from his shop.
The three youths had given their names as Santosh, Kishan and Aravind, said Kulkarni. Kulkarni was shocked when the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) officials from Mumbai and Chennai visited Dharwad on November 21 last year and searched the house. The trio had vacated the house by then.
The ATS officials had also collected some information pertaining to the bomb blast in Chennai. The team had inspected the Internet centres and STD phone call centres which were visited by the three youths.
Sources said the youths used to make international calls and send e-mails to various destinations. Based on the IP addresess of the computers from where the e-mails were sent, the ATS officials had visited the cyber cafe for more details.
The team had come to the city based on the information given by three youths, all natives of Uttar Pradesh, who were staying in Dharwad earlier and were arrested by the ATS in Hyderabad. Sources said the SIMI activists used to remain indoors and ventured out to the cyber cafe and the STD booth late in the night. A group from Hyderabad used to frequent their house.
Monday’s developments have created concern among the citizens of Dharwad about the fact that terrorist organisations are finding the city a safe hideout.
Inputs from DHNS