IM sits pretty in Azamgarh, UP govt tells police not to raid hub Bharti Jain,ET Bureau NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding the crackdown on India . Mujahideen modules across Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan, its backbone remains intact given the alleged reluctance of the UP government to let intelligence agencies raid Azamgarh, home to many IM leaders and cadres. Police of states which busted IM modules and intelligence agencies had approached the UP police on many occasions requesting joint raids in villages like Sanjarpur in Azamgarh, believed to be the hub of IM cadre, according to a central security establishment officer. Agencies believe raids in Azamgarh would have helped them unearth the network of IM across the country, besides tracking linkages to Pakistan and Gulf countries. â€œHowever, indications we got from the UP police were that they were specifically warned by the state government against raids or searches in Muslim-dominated villages of Azamgarh,â€ said an intelligence official of the centre. Incidentally, the Mayawati government is not the only political dispensation that has frowned on law enforcement agencies vis-Ã -vis Azamgarh. From the Samajwadi Party, which had questioned the authenticity of the Batla House encounter that killed two IM terrorists including commander Atif Amin, to a section within Congress, led by party general secretary Digvijay Singh , have spoken out against â€œharassmentâ€ of families of suspected IM cadre in Azamgarh. While SP leaders have claimed that the Azamgarh youth arrested for links with IM were â€œinnocentâ€ and were â€œframedâ€, Singh has visited Sanjarpur to sympathise with the families. He has also campaigned for the â€œhumaneâ€ treatment of arrested IM cadres and sought their expeditious trial. IM, founded by the Bhatkal brothers Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal, is a terror outfit made up of former Simi cadres with direct links to Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Toiba. It was propped up the LeT-Simi combine to carry out terror attacks in the hinterland to give the impression that it was the handiwork of â€˜indigenous radicalsâ€™. IM was most active in 2008, when it carried out blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Bangalore. It was also linked to the German Bakery blasts in Pune in February 2010. Though IM received a major blow following the killing/arrest of many of its leaders and cadre in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi, its leadership remained out of bounds after senior commanders such as Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, Shahnawaz (brother of Mohammad Saif, an IM cadre arrested following the Batla House encounter) escaped to safehouses in Pakistan and the UAE. Of the 20-odd IM leaders wanted in various terror cases, as many as 14 are believed to have left Indian shores and found sanctuaries in either Pakistan or the Gulf. Only 5-6 IM leaders are still believed to be holed up in India. The IM network however continues to thrive, given the votebank politics in states like UP that has forced leaders cutting across party lines to keep out law enforcement agencies from their alleged hideouts in Azamgarh. â€œThe IM has enough sympathisers, both underground and overground. There are several political fronts comprising radicals backing IM and providing them the necessary logistics,â€ the intelligence official pointed out.