Students Islamic Movement of India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
What is SIMI?
10 things to know
SIMI is a banned terror outfit in the country for its alleged involvement in various terror activities. Here are 10 things to know about this outfit:
1. Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is a banned Islamist student organisation that was formed in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, on 25 April, 1977.
2. It originally emerged as a student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH).
3. Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi was its founding president. 4. SIMI was first banned on 27 September 2001 immediately following the September 11 attacks in the United States.
5. It was briefly unbanned in August 2008, but banned again in the same year on national security grounds.
6. In 2014, the Centre renewed the ban imposed on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) under the Unlawful Activites (Prevention) Act for another five years, saying that if the outfit's activities were not curbed, it would reorganize its absconding activists and threaten the integrity and security of the country.
7. Prosecution charges against its members were under the provisions of [Terrorist And Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA), the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.
8. While the organisation ceased to exist formally, it took the route adopted by other terrorist outfits and began operating under new names.
9. Reports also suggest that in some states like Uttar Pradesh where it had a strong presence, SIMI acquired new names for every district.
10. Some analysts believe that Indian Mujahideen (IM) is a militant branch of SIMI while others say that the two groups are distinct although linked.
11. Eight Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) terrorists were killed in an encounter after they broke out of Bhopal Central Jail early morning in Oct 2016, having killed a head constable.
A brief history
A potted history of a chequered organisation.
Ahmedabad crime branch officials with members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) organisation in 2010. Hasib Raza and Abufakir Siddiqi, wearing masks, were arrested with a locally-made revolver, an air-pistol and seventeen live cartridges a day ahead of the annual Lord Jagannath chariot procession. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Early this morning, 8 activists of the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) made a daredevil escape from a prison in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, only to be pursued and killed by the police eventually.
SIMI, which was banned by the government in 2001, is known for jail breaks, its members having done so twice in the last three years, most recently in 2013 from a prison in Khandwa, also in MP. In its nearly four decades of existence, the group has undergone a radical transformation — from being a gathering of moderate Muslims to becoming labelled as a terrorist organisation.
On 25 April 1977, the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind decided to form SIMI, with scholars and members from across the country. The ideological character of Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind, which was founded in 1948, had evolved from being Islamist to secular, since it came into existence. SIMI, based in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, was a creation of Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi, a media studies professor at the Western Illinois University, Macomb, the United States.
As its founding president, Siddiqi, along with others, adopted the Koran as its constitution and jihad, aimed at protecting Islam, as its way. It's alliance with the Jamaat ended in 1981 during the visit of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat to India. SIMI considered the latter as a mere puppet in the hands of Western powers and raised a strong protest against him.
Although the group has a national presence, in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Assam, it did not draw much attention until it was banned by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 2001 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
Following this development, many of its members went into hiding, though some, including Safdar Nagori, the secretary general, were detained and arrested on charges of inciting riots and violence.
Security officials believe many SIMI activists have joined the militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir and crossed over to Pakistan for training in camps run by groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). SIMI members were believed to have been behind the serial blasts on local trains in Mumbai that killed 187 people in 2006 and 20 others in another explosion in New Delhi that year. In 2008, the serial bombings in Gujarat that killed 45 people were also linked to the organisation.
Although SIMI challenged the ban on its activities in court in 2008, the government has extended it thrice, till 2019, each time upheld by the higher courts. The People's Union for Democratic Rights, a civil liberties organisation, has also appealed against the ban on SIMI which remains with the Supreme Court.
How It Began
Guilty by Association?
Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi, now a professor of mass communication at Western Illinois University in the US, founded the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) at Aligarh in April 1977, with a mission to ‘liberate India’ from western cultural influence and convert it into an Islamic society
What is its ideology?
Influenced by the Deoband school of thought, SIMI aims to counter in India what it believes is the increasing moral degeneration, sexual anarchy and ‘insensitiveness’ as a result of following the ‘decadent’ west
How it became controversial?
SIMI originally emerged as a student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami. But the alliance was shortlived as Jamat disapproved of SIMI’s extremist line.
SIMI was banned first on September 27, 2001, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. In July 2006, the Centre told the Unlawful Activities
(Prevention) Tribunal that contrary to notion that SIMI’s activities had declined following its ban, the organization had stepped up its subversive activities and was involved in almost all major explosions, communal violence and circulation of inflammatory material across the country
Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN
From the archives of ‘‘The Times of India’’: 2008
TRYST WITH TERROR TAG
May 14, 2003: Mumbai Police arrest three people and foil an alleged SIMI-LeT plan to trigger blasts in Mumbai and Kerala
May 26, 2003: Police arrest two SIMI activists in the Ghatkopar bomb blast case in Mumbai
Jul 21, 2003: A POTA court in Delhi sentences two SIMI activists for their membership of the banned group
Sep 12, 2003: Police arrest two SIMI activists for removing railway sleeper clips in West Bengal Nov 11, 2003 | A Delhi court acquits SIMI president Shahid Badar Falah in a sedition case
Nov 1, 2004: Police arrest an alleged SIMI activist, Maulana Nasiruddin, at Hyderabad in connection with former Gujarat minister Haren Pandya’s murder
Jun 11, 2005: POTA court acquits eight alleged SIMI activists accused in the Ghatkopar blast case
Jul 11, 2005: Police arrest six alleged SIMI activists, including four of a family, at Faizabad, UP, in connection with an attack on the Babri Masjid complex in Ayodhya
Jul 1, 2006: UP government withdraws a treason case against SIMI president Shahid Badr Falahi
Jul 6, 2006: Supreme Court rejects a SIMI plea seeking revocation of a ban on it
Jul 13, 2006: Police arrest around 200 SIMI activists in Mumbai after the deadly train bombings on 7/11
Jul 21, 2006: Police arrest three alleged SIMI activists in connection with 7/11 Mumbai blasts
Oct 30, 2006: Police arrest Noor-ul-Hooda, a SIMI activist, for his alleged involvement in Malegaon blasts
Feb 15, 2007: Supreme Court describes SIMI as a secessionist movement
Mar 27, 2008: Madhya Pradesh STF arrests SIMI chief Safdar Nagori along with 11 other alleged activists at Indore
Aug 5, 2008: A Selhi High Court Tribunal lifts ban on SIMI
(With inputs from Mumbai, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kolkata, Nagpur, Guwahati, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kochi)
SIMI in 2008
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
FROM THE ARCHIVES OF ‘‘THE TIMES OF INDIA’’: 2008
SIMI’s terror fingerprint is spread across the country
Every time a bomb goes off in some part of the country, the needle of suspicion invariably turns to Students’ Islamic Movement of India, with the police making tall claims about the Muslim outfit’s terror network and its links with Pakistan’s ISI. In the past couple of years, as the number of people falling to deadly bombs rose sharply across the country, the crackdown on SIMI intensified as well, even as the group claimed that it had nothing to do with the attacks. On Tuesday, as a Delhi High Court Tribunal gave a clean chit to the Islamic group, it seemed that the allegations against SIMI may not be true. But a hard look at the banned group by TOI reporters reveals that the tribunal’s decision notwithstanding, SIMI fingerprints have cropped up in terror attacks countrywide.
As India tries to recover from the attacks of Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad in the past three months, security agencies are again keeping a close watch on the cadre of the outfit, which was put under ban for the first time in 2001. Although the movement has been in the news for the past 10 years for all the wrong reasons, it gained notoriety in 2006 when at least 13 SIMI members were arrested for their role in the 7/11 train blasts in Mumbai. Two months later, four bombs, planted on cycles, rocked the textile town of Malegaon in Maharashtra. Again, SIMI members were arrested for their alleged role. At least 33 SIMI members are lodged in Maharashtra prisons, facing charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
In neighbouring Karnataka, the police have busted a network of SIMI activists and seized explosives from them. The arrested persons have been accused of having links with terror outfits and planning strikes in the state. Most of the arrested SIMI activists are well-educated. Though none of the terror attacks in the state has been attributed to SIMI so far, the arrested activists have been accused of providing logistics support for the attacks on vital places. In fact, to test the explosives, they had carried out trial blasts near a village in Belgaum district. They had also organised a training camp in the jungles near Hubli.
West Bengal has also been on SIMI’s radar for some time. In 2002, Hasib Raja, a SIMI activist, was arrested with RDX. Investigations revealed that Raja’s intention was to blow up the Howrah Bridge. In 2003, five people, including two SIMI activists, were arrested while trying to remove clips of railway slippers on the Kumardubi-Barakar line.
Though the outfit has an underground network spread across the country, SIMI has become very strong in central India from where it has been spreading its tentacles to other regions. The presence of highly-motivated leaders like Safdar Nagori, who was arrested in Indore recently, has made this part of the country the nerve-centre of SIMI’s planning and strategy. Dr Tanveer, one of the accused in the Mumbai train blasts, spent several years in Nagpur studying Unani medicine near Mominpura. At least six SIMI activists were arrested in Nagpur in connection with Mumbai bombings.
Similar is the story in other states like UP, Assam, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, where SIMI activists have been arrested with guns, explosives and blueprints of their terror plans.
But, despite the crackdown on its cadre and a watch on its activities, SIMI has managed to survive and carry on its activities. In Kerala, SIMI has managed to survive under the cover of a slew of Islamic outfits. Intelligence agencies suspect that some of its operatives may have found way into mainstream political parties as well.
The intelligence agencies may be convinced about SIMI’s role in the terror network, but most of activists cooling their heels in jails face cases related to distributing fundamentalist literature. Due to the lack of concrete evidences against the activists, the cases have been moving slowly. For the government, which has been talking of crushing the terror network, it is a cause of concern.
See graphic elsewhere on this page
Flourishes in Malwa (MP)
Malwa region has been a hub of SIMI activity for the last two decades due to its central location, good connectivity and porous borders with neighbouring states that facilitate hideouts and clandestine movement.
The region also gave birth to activists like former SIMI head Safdar Nagori and Andhra Pradesh SIMI chief Kamruddin Nagori (Safdar's brother). They used Malwa as a base to strategise, organise and train the SIMI cadre.
Good train connectivity gave them quick access to places as far as Kerala where SIMI leaders from Madhya Pradesh are known to have operated, a senior ATS officer said. He added that open boundaries with Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra made smuggling of arms easy and that the thriving illegal opium trade in the Ratlam-Mandsaur belt provided avenues to raise money .
In 2008, 13 SIMI leaders were arrested from Malwa region; in 2009, five were held. The Nagori brothers and Shibly Peedicaal Abdul, wanted in connection with the Mumbai train serial blasts of July 2006, were among the prize catches of 2008.
Interrogation of SIMI operatives had led police in March 2008 to a training camp at the popular holiday spot Choral, 35 km from Indore. They also km from Indore. They also discovered SIMI had a women's wing, the “Shaheen Force“. Police were told the camp trained SIMI members from Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka and other states.
Police also found 122 gelatine sticks, 100 detonators and switchboards buried in Gawali village.
In October 2009, police took SIMI leaders Mohammed Shafiq, alias Dadabhai; Yunus, alias Umar; Shaikh Sajid; Firoz; and Ashraf into custody from a rented house in Khajrana, a communally-sen sitive locality in the state's commercial capital.
Shafiq and Yunus belong to Ujjain and were wanted in connection with the July 26, 2008 Ahmedabad blasts.Intelligence agencies claim some SIMI elements are still operational in the region.
Sources told TOI around 125 individuals in Malwa region are under surveillance, 35 of whom may be sleeper agents. Additional SP (Ujjain crime branch) Manish Khatri said local police and ATS have been keeping a close eye on SIMI activists. Among those gunned down in Bhopal was Abdul Majid, a resident of Nagori Mohalla in Mahidpur town, Ujjain district. He had been on the ATS radar for several years before he was caught. “We recovered high-quality explosives from Majid's possession which SIMI activists planned to use for blasts in Sholapur,“ Khatri said.
Source of recruits for IM, Pakistani terrorist organisations
Youths Trained, Radicalised To Execute Attacks
Since its shift towards radical beliefs became more pronounced in the 1990s, the Students' Islamic Movement of India that was banned in 2001 has emerged as a major concern for security agencies supplying recruits to Indian Mujahideen and Pakistan-based terrorist organisations.
Over the years, SIMI leaders radicalised Muslim youths and formed networks to train, plot and execute terrorist attacks, often in close collaboration with Pakistan's covert agencies that have directed violence against India.
In 2001, there were 400 full-time workers, known as `Ansars' and 20,000 regular members and the organisation had established a presence in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Assam, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat.
At a convention in 2001, SIMI leaders, including Ashraf Jaffery, Yasin Falahi, Jameel Siddiqui, Safdar Nagori, hailed al-Qaida boss Osama bin Laden as a `brother'. Nagori's faction was to become a major source of terror recruits.
The Indian government banned SIMI as a “terrorist or ganisation“ after 911 but the real problem surfaced in 2006, when Nagori, who is in jail since 2008, shed all pretence of student mobilisation and took to terrorist activities.
Nagori was close to Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, and their cousin Yasin, who came from Karnataka. The Bhatkals and another SIMI leader Abdus Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer, formed a full-fledged home-grown terrorist organisation, Indian Mujahideen, in 2005-06 with the support of Pakistan-based Lashkar-eTaiba and Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HuJI). IM unleashed a series of attacks in India's major cities motivated by a desire to avenge the 2002 Gujarat riots. The SIMI leaders were religiously motivated, seeking to `liberate India' and “restore“ an Islamic society -an ideological goal they shared with Lashkar.
According to Indian agencies, IM carried out close to 30 bomb blasts in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Patna, Varanasi and others killing over 200 people from 2006-07 till 2013.
Most attacks had logisti cal support from SIMI and Tauqeer attended meetings and prepared material to be sent to media apart from providing hideouts. After the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal in 2013, SIMI, led by Tauqeer, struck out on its own.
SIMI members, led by one Hyder Ali alias “black beauty“, targeted Narendra Modi when he was BJP's PM candidate at a rally in Patna in October 2013. SIMI members also planned attack at Bodhgaya temple in Bihar. Its members also carried out low intensity blasts in Roorkee, Varanasi and a train in Chennai.
4 of 8 slain men were held for T'gana crime
Of the eight Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists gunned down by the Madhya Pradesh police in an alleged gunfight on the outskirts of Bhopal, four -Sheikh Mahboob alias Guddu, Amjad Khan alias Dawood, Zakir Hussein alias Sadiq and Mohammed Salik alias Sallu -were nabbed by the Telangana police in a joint operation in Rourkela in Odisha in February, 2016.They were wanted in criminal cases registered in Telangana.
After Monday's encounter in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana police officials confirmed that the four were also named as accused in the April 2015 killing of a constable and a home guard at Suryapet town in Nalgonda district.
Appeals to educated men
It’s radicalism that appeals to educated men
Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN
FROM THE ARCHIVES OF ‘‘THE TIMES OF INDIA’’: 2008
Mumbai: It began as a front for Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), an organisation which has nursed a dream of seeing all Muslims live under an Islamic state. However, somewhere down the road, SIMI deviated from its parent body’s ideals and took to radicalising Muslim youth.
No Muslim leader today accepts that SIMI members are involved in terror attacks. But no one denies the fact that SIMI, in the name of avenging injustice to Muslim, real or imagined, managed to brainwash a section of the educated Muslim youth.
‘‘They would paste posters which had slogans like ‘Bhej illahi phir koi Salahuddin Ayubi (God, send again a Salahuddin Ayubi)’. Ayubi was a 12th century warrior who recaptured Jerusalem from the crusaders. It didn’t gel with the constitution of JI,’’ Aslam Ghazi, JI’s spokesperson in Maharashtra, recalled.
Formed in 1977, SIMI initially worked closely with the JI. But when the JI asked SIMI to work as its student wing, the group declined. ‘‘They
said they would morally support the Jamaat-e-Islami but would not work as its student wing,’’ Ghazi said.
Subsequently, the JI, then headed by Maulana Abu Lais, at its conference in 1982, formed the Students’ Islamic Organisation (SIO), its official student wing. Some of the 1980s events, like the Shah Bano case, the unlocking of the door of Babri Masjid which was followed by L K Advani’s rath yatra helped SIMI get its ground among a section of angry, educated Muslim youths. ‘‘We knew the boys had religious leanings but realised their extreme way of interpreting Islam only after the demolition of the Babri Masjid,’’ All-India Ulema Association president Maulana Athar Ali said.
After its demolition, posters with pictures of the mosque — its domes dripping blood — appeared in Muslim pockets. Some JI members tried to dissuade SIMI from radicalising Muslims youths but in vain. Finally, in the late 1990s, the JI, its members claimed, completely distanced itself from SIMI and its activities.
‘‘We never approved violence for redressal of our grievances. But then SIMI members were never our boys. Why would they listen to us?’’ Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi, a member of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind, an organisation of madrasa-educated maulvis which had opposed the Partition, said.