“The light of the sun and water,” the Jaish-e-Muhammad commander Masood Azhar Alvi wrote in his sprawling disquisition on the role of armed jihad in Islam, the Fathul Jawwad, “are essential for crops otherwise they go waste. In the same way, the life of nations depends on martyrs. The national fields can be irrigated only with the blood of the best hearts”.

Four years after he left the jihad training camp in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, Taliban bomb-maker turned Indian Mujahideen operative Zia-ur-Rahman’s journey to Paradise has ended in a Delhi Police cell.  His journey, pieced together in investigation documents accessed by The Hindu, gives fascinating insights into the emerging course of the jihadist movement in India.

Mr. Rahman, arrested last month, is alleged by police in several States to have fabricated the Indian Mujahideen’s improvised explosive devices — among them, those set off in crowded Mumbai markets on July 12, 2011, claiming 27 lives; and the Hyderabad serial blasts on February 21, 2013, killing 17 people.

Born into a family of Partition refugees from Phagwara, Mr. Rahman hails from Mustafabad, in Pakistan’s Toba Tek Singh district. The name of the district is familiar to millions, from the title of a famous Partition-era short story by Sadat Hasan Manto.

After his school education, Mr. Rahman earned a diploma in food technology from the Government College of Technology in Faislabad.  It was there, sources familiar with his interrogation said, that Mr. Rahman first encountered volunteers from the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Early in 2010, Mr. Rahman signed up for the Daura Aam — a 21-day basic training course.

Later, Mr. Rahman turned to the rival Jaish-e-Muhammad, which in turn sent him to a Tehreek-e-Taliban camp in war-torn North Waziristan.

Mr. Rahman has told police he was put in touch with Indian Mujahideen chief Riyaz Shahbandri by a Faislabad-based tailor, Abdul Rahman.  He is alleged to have entered India in late 2010, and worked along with the recently-arrested IM operative Tehseen Akhtar.

Growing Taliban links

Mr. Rahman’s journey from the Pakistani Taliban to the Indian Mujahideen represents a growing trend. Four Indian Mujahideen operatives — Shahnawaz Alam, Mirza Shadab Beg, Muhammad ‘Bada’ Sajid and Muhammad Shafi — are believed by Indian intelligence to be training with the Tehreek-e-Taliban in North Waziristan.

Karachi residents Muhammad Fahim and Muhammad Abdul Walid, held by the Uttar Pradesh police last week, had also served in Taliban camps, before allegedly volunteering to serve with the Indian Mujahideen.

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