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Why extremists zeroed in on Vagamon

Posted May 15th, 2018, 10:33 AM IST

Why extremists zeroed in on Vagamon

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Almost eleven years ago Vagamon hit the national headlines in connection with the SIMI training camp held in the picturesque tourist destination. At that time central intelligence agencies’ preliminary assessment was that difficult terrain, support from two SIMI activists belonging to neighbouring Eratupettah town and dense forests could had prompted the banned outfit to zero in on Vagamon. Interestingly no one in Vagamon could recollect any suspicious activities that had taken place in that area.

Being a tourist destination, it would have been difficult for them to identify their links to banned outfit or their purpose of visit. They could have mistaken the SIMI activists for members of trekking, adventure clubs or mountain biking enthusiasts who visit the area often for adventure sport. Though on record none confirmed their presence, off the record they did hint at seeing groups of youngsters visiting the market to buy provision.





One had to climb a rocky terrain up to almost 1100 meters to reach the top of a hill from where you get a glimpse of Thangalpara where the training camp was held. According to NIA, the SIMI activists had organised physical training, arms training, firing session, bomb manufacturing, motor biking, rock climbing, rope climbing, briefing and indoctrination sessions. Abbas Moulavi, caretaker of Sheikh Fariduddin dargah located near the area where SIMI was believed to have trained its cadre, could not spot anything suspicious during that period.

The moulavi who followed a 9 am to 5 pm schedule at the dargah since 2004, came to know about the training camp only through newspapers. Soon after the SIMI camp report, several organisations in Kerala came under the scanner of central agencies. Some were even accused of having links with SIMI. This had triggered a debate among Muslim organisations which went on for several months.

While the mainstream political party Indian Union Muslim League did not rule out the possibility of a micro minority trying to create trouble and called for strict vigil, NDF termed the terror links as exaggerated and part of smear campagin. But organisations like Jamate-e-Islami even while stating that majority Muslims in the state followed moderate line, said a minority could be tempted by some kind of source or deprivation. However, the influence of this fringe was very limited.

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