Central agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) are active in Malda for the past two days as they look for a person linked to alleged Al-Qaeda operatives arrested in Murshidabad district in the state and in Ernakulam in Kerala on Saturday, sources said.

The nine arrested “terrorists” had a WhatsApp group where they communicated with each other in “code language,” and the group had at least one member from Malda, it is learnt.

“This fact has turned the attention of the agencies to Malda district as they dig into the entire matter. However, it seems that the person has already fled the district,” an intelligence source said today.

However, it is learnt that the investigative agencies have included all the blocks of Harishchandrapur, Ratua and Kaliachak in the district in their “red zone,” and that these place are under strict surveillance.

“The person in question was even suspected to be somewhere in Baishnabnagar in Kaliachak-III in Malda, but the agencies could not nab him as he may have left the area immediately after the arrests in Murshidabad,” the source said.

According to the intelligence sources, the mobile phones seized from the arrested had a WhatsApp group with 22 members, and one of them was from Malda.

The investigators are of the opinion that being the adjacent district to Murshidabad, Malda is tactically an advantageous spot to be used in antinational activities.

“Some of the villages across Murshidabad district are now under strict vigil. A private Madrasah in Ratua and various other areas of Kaliachak and Harishchandrapur are now under the scanner,” the source added.

No police officer or administrative official was willing to comment on the matter.

However, when asked about the matter, Malda Superintendent of Police, Alok Rajoria, said, “The police are making routine checks and maintaining surveillance.”

The NIA arrested the nine Al Qaeda terrorists in multiple raids in Ernakulam and Murshidabad after it had learnt of an inter-state module of Al-Qaeda operatives at various locations in India.

“The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people and strike terror,” the NIA said in an official statement last Saturday.

Six terrorists were arrested from Murshidabad and three from Kerala in the early morning raids, the probe agency said.

“Large quantity of incriminating materials including digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, a locally fabricated body armour, articles and literature used for making homemade explosive devices have been seized from their possession,” the NIA had said, adding that the individuals were “radicalised by Pakistanbased Al-Qaeda terrorists on social media and were motivated to undertake attacks at multiple places including Delhi-NCR.”