(Reuters) – Indian police have arrested a key suspect in a blast in West Bengal state who they believe is linked to a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of neighboring Bangladesh and stage a coup there.
Shahnor Alom, who was arrested in a village in the northeastern state of Assam on Friday night, belongs to a banned Bangladeshi group active in eastern India, a senior intelligence officer said on Saturday.
Alom, 36, had been on the run since Oct. 2, when two members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh were killed in an explosion while building homemade bombs in Burdwan in West Bengal. Indian security officials say they uncovered the plot against Hasina while investigating the blast.
“He was caught last night hiding in his relative’s house in a village in Nalbari district,” the officer, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.
A court in Guwahati, Assam’s largest city, ordered Alom to be held for 14 days for questioning. He told reporters outside that he had surrendered to police.
But Assam’s director general of police Khagen Sharma contradicted that, saying: “Jihadis are not allowed to surrender. He was arrested.”
Alom’s wife, 36, was arrested in Guwahati on Nov. 8 on the same charges as her husband.
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen was thought to have been lying low since authorities cracked down on it after it detonated nearly 500 bombs almost simultaneously on one day in 2005 across Bangladesh, including in the capital, Dhaka.
Mainly-Muslim Bangladesh has suffered three major army coups and two dozen smaller rebellions since gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971 in a war that killed and displaced millions.
(Reporting by Biswajyoti Das; Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Douglas Busvine andTom Heneghan)