After the Special Task Force (STF) of the Odisha Crime Branch (CB) arrested Kashmiri fraudster Sayed Ishaan Bukhari, who is also suspected of having ISI links, police have shifted its sharp focus on Milatnagar, a village dominated by a minority community in Neulpur panchayat of Jajpur district, where the accused has been staying for the last five years after marrying a local girl.
Why the alleged ‘terror suspect’ chose the area for residence and how he could manage to ward off the police glare for so long are questions that have cropped up now.
Given his suspected terror links, the National Investigating Agency (NIA), the Central Intelligence Bureau, the Punjab Police, and Kashmir Police are likely to interrogate Bukhari in phases.
As per reports, about 90 percent of the residents at Milatnagar are outside settlers. People mostly from Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal have settled there while many have taken up rented residence over the years.
In fact, Milatnagar, having hosted a hotchpotch populace from different parts of the country, reportedly provided a safe haven for Bukhari, who managed to hide his real identity there over the years and undertook his nefarious activities, despite a police complaint against him earlier.
Notably, the STF’s preliminary investigation has already revealed that Bukhari married at least six to seven girls by identifying himself as an Army doctor, an official in the PMO, and a close associate of some high-ranking NIA officials.
In view of such factors, the village has now come under the scanner of police and investigating agencies.
Now, people have sought to know the reasons behind Bukhari picking up this particular place as his hideout after marrying a local girl.
They have demanded that the police and the administration should examine the credentials of the residents -like Aadhaar cards and voter identity cards – and find out those who have helped them settle there.
As for the issue, Dibakar Behera, former sarpanch of Neulpur, recalled some incidents linked to Bukhari, saying, "Bukhari married a local girl after establishing a good rapport with her through social media. In 2021-22, when I was the sarpanch, his wife had contacted me for his Aadhaar card.”
“The couple came to my office. I asked him about his identity and means of living. He introduced him as an official working in the PMO. I asked him about the need for an Aadhaar card since he was with the PMO. However, he said that he wanted the Aadhaar to buy a patch of land and open his bank account,” he added.
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The sarpanch also alleged that when he wanted Bukhari to produce his documents and proof, the latter did not cooperate with him. “I straightaway refused to help in the matter without any proof. Then, he went away,” Behera said.
He also stated that when Bukhari’s identity was revealed after his arrest, we were scared. This is a peaceful village and hiding such an element is a matter of concern, he observed.