A multiple bomb attack occurred against crowded markets in the Indian capital of New Delhi this evening, killing at least 20 people and injuring at least 90 others. The markets were said to be unusually busy this weekend, owing to the upcoming Hindu festival of Navrati and the Muslim Eid ul-Fitr. The attack was taken credit for by an outfit calling itself the Indian Mujahideen, who promised more attacks in the future.
But who exactly is the Indian Mujahideen? The answer is far from clear. The group arrived virtually out nowhere onto the scene early in 2007 and has taken credit for several major attacks since then, including an attack in May on the city of Jaipur which killed 63 people. The Indian government has alleged that the Indian Mujahideen is simply an alias for the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.
SIMI denies any connection with militant groups, but has been banned off and on by the Indian government, and though it has often been accused of terrorist ties the case has never been particularly conclusive. In 2007 when the organization challenged its most recent ban the Indian Supreme Court upheld it on the grounds that SIMI was “a secessionist movement,” not a terrorist organization. Likewise, while some of the bombing suspects arrested in the past few years have been SIMI members, its higher ranking officials are more often arrested for sedition than for any violent acts.
In fact, the SIMI ban was overturned last month by the Delhi High Court. And while police expressed “shock” at the decision citing investigations into the Indian Mujahideen’s bombings, the court determined it had been presented with no concrete evidence to justify the ban. The following day, the judgment was overruled and the ban reinstated by the Indian Supreme Court, after the government complained the move would “harm anti-terror policy”. The later court ruling was meant to give the government time to produce new evidence against the group, though police later admitted that they still have no “direct evidence” against SIMI.