Pragya Debnath from Bengal who converted to Islam in 2009 under the influence of her ‘best friend’, arrested from Dhaka for terror links: Read details

A 25-year-old terrorist named Ayesha Jannat Mohana was arrested on Friday in Dhaka by the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit for having links with the proscribed terror outfit Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

During the interrogation, the police found out that the woman, Ayesha Jannat Mohana, was originally a Hindu before being converted to Islam when she was in Class 9. Before conversion, Ayesha was known as Pragya Debnath and she hailed from Paschim Keshabpur village that comes under the jurisdiction of the Dhaniakhali police station of Hooghly district adjoining Kolkata. Under the influence of her best friend, who was a Muslim, Pragya had converted to Islam in her high school back in 2009.

Ayesha recruited and radicalised by Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)

Following her conversion to Islam, Pragya adopted the name of Ayesha Jannat Mohona and was indoctrinated by the Salafi clergymen in her hometown. A few years after her conversion, she came into contact with the JMB’s women cell and was enlisted in the organisation. According to the report, the cell’s chief, Asmani Khatoon alias ‘Bondi Jibon’ played an instrumental role in her recruitment.

After being recruited for the JMB, Ayesha was tasked with luring Hindu girls to convert to Islam and then acquainting them with radical Salafi clerics to complete their radicalisation and subsequent induction into the terror outfit.

Ayesha procured fake Bangladeshi birth certificate, Bangladeshi National Identity Card

Since 2016, Ayesha has been regularly visiting Bangladesh, a report published in The Daily Star quoted CTTC assistant commissioner Sk. Imran Hossain as saying. She had reportedly procured a counterfeit Bangladeshi birth certificate and through it, a Bangladeshi National Identity card. Along with these fake documents, an Indian passport was retrieved from her.

Primary responsibility of recruiting teenagers who could be radicalised to join the JMB

Ayesha was entrusted with the responsibility of securing funding for the terror outfit. She had recently married a Bangladeshi national Amir Hossain Saddam over the phone as he is currently staying in Oman. Heeding her husband’s advice, Ayesha started living in Bangladesh from August 10 last year. She took up residence in Dhaka and started preaching religious subjects in some madrassas in the city’s Keraniganj and Narayanganj neighbourhoods. However, her main job was to identify potential teenagers and young adults who could be radicalised and brainwashed to join the JMB.

Ayesha stopped teaching at the madrassas after her mentor Asmani Khatun was arrested by CTTC earlier this year. Instead of the religious seminaries, Ayesha started becoming more active on social media platforms to reach out to young and impressionable youth and entice them into joining the JMB.

According to the police, Ayesha had successfully recruited some girls into the JMB over the past few months. She is also accused of crossing the international border illegally many times. The report quoting the police officials who arrested Ayesha claimed that the girl was uncharacteristically calm and composed and showed no signs of anxiety or trepidation on being arrested. The police believe that the girl is highly radicalised and committed to the terror outfit.

Porous border between India and Bangladesh aides JMB’s rampant terror activities

The porous border between India and Bangladesh provides the terrorists associated with the JMB a reliable passage to recruit young and unwitting youth and continue their rampant terror activities. With the Hasina Sheikh government in Bangladesh coming down hard on the JMB, the very same passage has also provided a safe exit from Bangladesh to the terrorists. It is one of the reasons why so many JMB terrorists have been caught and terror modules busted on this side of the border.

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