MUMBAI: Indian Police in Mumbai are on high alert, scouring the city for 26 Pakistani nationals, who have gone missing for the past two to three weeks. Among them is a man who stayed in Juhu for nearly 10 years and ran a shop in the area. Indian Police said none of them provided accurate details about where they were staying or who they had come to meet while filling up the C-forms, a document all Pakistanis entering India have to fill. This came to light when security agencies tried to trace them, said an Indian official source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Indian Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is leading the manhunt, which was triggered by alerts from Indian intelligence agencies. The search for the 26 people intensified when security agencies could not trace them based on information provided in the C-forms. The C-form has the address of the person or hotel in India where a Pakistani national is staying, the duration of the stay and a copy of the passport, visa and residential permit. The Maharashtra ATS has sent teams to all hotels and lodging houses in Mumbai to look for them. The alert centres around reports that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) cadre, believed to be from Bhatkal in Karnataka, had conducted reconnaissance in the city in the past few months.
Although the IM is no more the force it once was, its founders ‘Riyaz Shahbandri alias Riyaz Bhatkal and his elder brother Iqbal are still in Pakistan and reportedly under the protection of the ISI,’ claims Indian media. Besides, two other Bhatkal natives, Sultan and Shafi Armar, are suspected to have been the Islamic State’s main recruiters in India. The two are believed to have been killed in Syria a few months ago.