“Moreover, Chowdhury is a man of repute.
The militants thought that if they stayed in
his place, they will be above suspicion.”
Both Shakil and Hasan ran a burqa-mak-
ing unit from the house. Their wives never
socialized with neighbors and preferred to
go out of town to buy provisions.
“Though they came here a few months
back, we have never seen their face. The
women were always in burqa,” Rajani
Khatun, a college student and neighbor,
said. “Their body language was mysterious.”
A rather populous area otherwise, the
lane leading to Chowdhury’s house wore a
deserted look when India Abroad visited
the place October 17. Three policemen
stood guarding the main entrance to the
house; its doors and windows were shut
and repeated knocks elicited no response
even though one could hear television
sounds and muffled voices inside.
According to the investigators, the wives
of Shakil and Hasan are well-trained militants. “They are skilled shooters, can make
and hurl bombs and are equipped to indoctrinate others,” claimed a source in the CID.
“Both the women are tough nuts to crack
and seem totally unfazed by the explosion.
Both women have a child each, but they
come across as indifferent mothers.”
The inspector in charge of the Bardhaman
police station seconded the CID’s version during his interaction with India Abroad.
“No one can make out from Shakil’s wife
Gulshana Bibi’s expressions that she has
lost her husband. Playing with death to
them is as easy as feeding their child,” the
Initially, when the explosion went off, the residents of the area thought a gas cylinder had burst. “It was 11.45 am. I
was at my tea stall when I heard a deafen-
ing sound,” tea-stall owner Mita Mal said.
“We rushed out and saw one of the women
at the window. She said a cylinder had
burst but there was nothing to worry.
People who had gathered saw blood
streaming out of the pipes. That is when
they decided to call the police.”
“The woman kept insisting that her hus-
band was scaling and cooking a big fish and
chicken for lunch and that the blood was
from the meat,” Mal added.
When the police arrived, the women
resisted their entry and allegedly threatened to open fire at them.
“The police broke in to find two men lying
in a pool of blood and the women meticulously washing away the blood with water,”
the tea-stall owner added.
Shakil, according to the investigators,
was one of the skilled IED makers for the
Following the interrogation of Shakil’s
wife Gulshana Bibi, the investigators have
zeroed in on one Kausar who, they believe,
was the kingpin behind the group and who
also acted as a courier for Shakil.
The police are also looking for three other
associates of Kausar —Naseerullah, Saqib
According to the CID, Kausar and
Naseerullah carried the IEDs that Shakil
made for Saqib, a resident of Beldanga in
From Beldanga another trusted man,
Sajeed, would transfer the devices to
Lalgola, also in Murshidabad, bordering
From here, the devices were smuggled
into Chittagong in Bangladesh via
Rajshahi and Satksheera, according to
According to the investigators, the militants culled raw materials through illegal
channels from mines in and around
Bardhaman district as also from Kolkata.
Money reached them through hawala
channels from Bangladesh as well as from
some countries in West Asia, sources said
Shakil prepared IEDs on specific demand
from across the border.
Sometimes orders would also come from
Assam and other north-eastern states, the
A few people arrested October 17 from
Assam’s Barpeta district are suspected to be
involved with the Bardhaman case, an
agency report said October 18.
An Assam police spokesman claimed that
one of the arrested, Shaikhul Islam alias
Abdulla, is an important member of a JMB
module operating in Assam and was an
associate of Shakil.
Kausar took a house on rent in
Bardhaman’s Baburbagh for about six
months from one Haji Abdul Razzak, a
highly respected individual in the locality,
to ward off any suspicion.
Kausar lived with his ‘wife’ and a married friend.
“The men had a two-wheeler and always
wore helmets,” Shekh Habibur, a nephew
of Kausar’s landlord, said. “The women
were in burqas.”
They occupied three rooms on the first
floor and the ground floor was rented out to
a few undergraduate students.
“Earlier, these students used to socialize
with Mama’s former tenants but ever since
these people moved in, they were barred
from going upstairs,” Habibur said.
“They did not like us going to the terrace
to hang the clothes out to dry,” he said, as
their wives were too conservative.
“Kausar and his ‘friend’ claimed to be
suppliers of surgical material to hospitals
and would always be seen moving around
with heavy rucksacks,” Habibur added.
“Soon after the explosion occurred, around
12.30 pm, the couples absconded but to
hoodwink us, they left the main gate
unlocked and the fans in their rooms
Retired Indian Police Service officer
Najrul Islam feels the state government
can’t shirk its responsibility for the
“If there were terror modules in such
close proximity to the police station and the
police were clueless, we have to assume
that intelligence agencies in the state have
failed to perform their duty,” he said.
“However, it may also be the case that the
police knew about the terrorists’ hideouts
and had informed those in power but the
latter chose to keep mum for political interests. Whatever may be the case, the state
government cannot pass the buck.”
What went on inside BengalÊs house of terror? PHOTOGRAPHS: DIPAK CHAKRABOR T Y
A sketch of Kausar, the alleged kingpin. Shekh Habibur, nephew of Kausar’s landlord.