On the evening of April 3, 30-year-old IIT graduate Ahmed Murtaza Abbasi tried to force his way into the Gorakhnath Mandir in Uttar Pradesh. A Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh Police and the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) confirmed that he has links with the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization.
Additional director general of police (ADG), law and order, Prashant Kumar said that Murtaza was highly radicalized and that he followed ISIS-affiliated literature online. “His laptop and other electronic gadgets recovered from him have been sent for forensic examination. They will reveal more information,” he added.
Murtaza traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2016 and it is alleged that he was radicalized and indoctrinated into terrorism during his stay there. He wanted to join ISIS and tried to cross over into Syria several times but failed. Murtaza was in constant touch with several ISIS recruits from Kerala who had joined ISIS.
The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) said that he contacted these Keralites and requested their help to cross over into Syria during the 2017-2018 period. Murtaza also transferred money from his bank account to an ISIS account on multiple occasions. He was also inspired by the provocative speeches of Zakir Naik who fled Bharat in 2016 and is suspected of financing terrorism and inciting communal disharmony.
A video of Murtaza recently appeared where he spoke about the motivation behind the terrorist attack. He said that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) (which is yet to be implemented) and the recent hijab controversy in Karnataka spurred him.
Police confirmed that his desire to become a martyr was behind the attack on the temple. Two security guards were seriously injured when the jihadi pounced on them with sharp weapons and hacked them several times. He was shouting Allahu Akbar, all the while.
Conscious attempts are being made to save him by portraying Murtaza as a mental patient. Hindus In Name Only (HINOs) have taken it upon themselves to try and provide the terrorist with a helping hand. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Shekhar Gupta’s The Print have tried to water down his crime by stressing on the alleged ‘mental health’ angle and by declaring that Murtaza is ‘self-radicalized’ as he failed to join ISIS. In fact, someone being able to self-radicalize to such an extent that he carries out a deadly terror attack shows just how dangerous he is.
Meanwhile, the police have received documents from IIT that Murtaza was a good student. He comes from a well-to-do family, both financially and socially. His great-grandfather was the Gorakhpur collector during the British era.
The terrorist worked as a software expert in a private company and developed a mobile app. While working in Mumbai, Murtaza came in touch with some Kerala-based men. He visited them regularly during his stay in Mumbai.
Relatives and friends confirmed that Ahmed Murtaza Abbasi was extremely religious. Police have also collected statements that the man, who regularly attended religious ceremonies, traveled far and wide to listen to Islamist spiritual discourse and was a gifted student at the madrassa.
In the aftermath of the attack, Murtaza’s father Munir Abbasi parroted the suicidal tendencies story. He told ANI, “He (my son) is not mentally stable. Since childhood, he is suffering from depression. He also received medical treatment. Due to some developments, he believed that police were after him. He had no planning and did this due to his current mental state”. UP ATS has now summoned Abbasi for questioning.
Murtaza’s wife said that he was an introvert who spoke less. She added that they seldom spoke to each other since her mother-in-law did not like it. He would leave at 6 am and return around 7 pm. His mother did not allow him to enter their bedroom before midnight. She said that they spent little time together and that Murtaza used to sleep with his parents.
UP ATS also arrested Murtaza’s aide Abdul Rehman from Saharanpur. Rehman was there in the vicinity when Murtaza attacked the security personnel but ran away after people subdued the terrorist. As per sources, the assailant and Rehman have brainwashed many Muslim youths. The presence of his accomplice debunks the ‘lone wolf’ theory.
Meanwhile, UP CM Yogi Adityanath who is also the Gorakhnath Temple Mahant has announced a cash reward of Rs. 5 lakh for the two Provincial Armed Constabulary jawans and constable Anurag Rajput who foiled the attack. Following the Gorakhnath temple attack, security has been beefed up at sensitive religious places in UP including the Shri Krishna Janmasthan temple complex.