In yet another revelation, Abdul Karim Tunda, alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba ideologue, has said that back in Pakistan he was in regular touch with the former Inter-Services Intelligence chief, Hamid Gul. Till recently he maintained links with several other Pakistani intelligence officials also to garner support for terror activities in India.
“LeT is virtually an arm of Pakistan’s ISI through which young men were recruited on a paltry monthly allowance of roughly Rs. 4,000 for conducting ground operations. Tunda, who was once a very powerful figure in the Lashkar hierarchy, still wielded influence when it came to making recruitments for the outfit. During interrogation, he has disclosed that he was in direct touch with Hamid Gul,” said a senior Special Cell officer of the Delhi Police.
(However, Mr. Gul told TV channels that he had never met Tunda.)
Delhi, the target
Tunda has purportedly told the interrogators that during 1996-98, he sent his men to carry out blasts in and outside Delhi. The police suspect that his conduits carried out the blast outside the Police Headquarters in January 1997. “Since the CBI is investigating the case, it would interrogate Tunda to gather specific details. During questioning, Tunda has confessed to having masterminded the blasts triggered in 1996-98,” said the officer.
The police would produce Tunda before a city court on Tuesday seeking further custody in a case registered at the Malviya Nagar station way back in 1994. Seven persons were arrested in that case and a consignment of explosives was recovered from them. While two of the accused were acquitted, Tunda was declared a proclaimed offender.
“Tunda has disclosed that certain incidents [riots] reported in 1984 perturbed him and he took to extremism. A supplier of garments — he would purchase them from Ahmedabad and sell in different parts of western Uttar Pradesh — Tunda learnt to configure pipe-bombs during a visit to Tonk in Rajasthan after he attended a meeting of the Ahle-Hadees sect there in 1985. It was once while experimenting that a bomb exploded, amputating his left arm,” said the officer.
The alleged LeT mastermind, the oldest among his siblings, recounted his troubled childhood. After his father passed away when he was in Class VII, his uncle took him to Kithore in Meerut on the pretext of helping him with further studies. “However, he was forced to work at a wooden cart and wheel manufacturing unit for two years. Although his uncle claimed that his salary was being sent to his family in Pilakhua, which was earlier located in Ghaziabad district, he later discovered that his mother never received any money. His mother then brought him back to Pilakhua, following which Tunda tried his hand at various jobs, from carpentry, metal moulding to scrap dealing trade.
Tunda married Zarina in 1964 and had five children by her. In 1984, he married another woman in Ahmedabad and 11 years later, he took as his third wife the 18-year-old daughter of his close friend who had helped him to settle down in Bangladesh. In all, Tunda had nine children, three of whom have died. His third son Abdul Wariz, who joined the LeT, was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir and sentenced to eight-year jail. “He claims that Wariz went back to Pakistan after serving the sentence. His entire family lives in Lahore,” the officer said.
Tunda is lying: Gul
Mr. Gul rubbished Tunda’s accusation that he was his handler, saying they had never met.
“He [Tunda] is lying. There is no truth in his claims. I have never met him,” Mr. Gul said.
Asked why Tunda had made a statement against him, the former ISI chief said, “My name is very familiar in India, it sells very well there. [Maybe] it’s the most familiar name that occurred to Tunda.”
Mr. Gul, who was accused of backing jihadi groups in Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan while heading the ISI, claimed that he had no links with the intelligence set-up or mujahideen now.
“I talk vociferously and I’m some sort of an opinion maker. I have no other role,” he told TV channels.