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January 11, 2000
Maulana Masood Azhar's speeches do rounds of Kanpur
''I don't want to see the youth wasting their time in cricket or football. I am interested in those who are willing to wield the AK-47, pistols and rocket launchers.''
These are the words of Harkat-ul-Ansar chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, the Muslim cleric who was among the three militants freed by the government recently in exchange of the safe release of hostages on board Indian Airlines Flight IC 814.
And these words were heard not in Pakistan where Azhar is recruiting jehadis to fight in Kashmir, but in downtown Kanpur.
Audio tapes of Azhar's speeches are being played regularly at select gatherings in Kanpur. According to the police, several copies of these tapes are doing rounds of this communally sensitive town.
DIG (Kanpur range) Duleep Trivedi said: "Our men are on the job and I am confident that they would be able to soon lay their hands on some of these tapes."
The police have reasons to believe that only two tapes were received in Kanpur about four months back and multiple copies were made later for wider circulation. An informer, who was present at a gathering where these tapes were played, has given some vital clues to the police.
According to this informer, "In his vitriolic, Azhar terms the US as Islam's number one enemy and India as the murderer and tormentor of Muslims in Kashmir." The tapes also hail the "martyrdom" of several militants gunned down by security forces in Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt and Kashmir.
The Kanpur police have also recovered some handbills which quote widely from Azhar's speeches and hail the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane as heroes. ''The true road to Islam is the Afghan way," exclaims one such bill.
These pamphlets also shower praises on the hijackers for adhering to the Islamic tenets even while they were carrying out the hijacking. "It was really praiseworthy that despite the adverse conditions on the aircraft , they were observing roza as also performing the mandatory namaz five times a day all through the hijacking," the handbill points out.
The police claim to have seized these handbills yesterday and a few people have been picked up for questioning.
"Apparently, Azhar's design is to catch the gullible, unemployed youth who would be promised lucrative returns for performing the task of a jihadi," the DIG pointed out.
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