Bengaluru: Whenever a terror module is busted in any part of the country, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is expected to take over the investigation, considering the inter-state ramifications of the case. However, the NIA’s reported “lack of interest” in the terror module (owing allegiance to the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen or IM) busted in the coastal town of Bhatkal in Karnataka last week is perplexing.
“In the past, we have seen that whenever a terror module is busted or a terrorism-related activity takes place in any state, NIA is the first to arrive at the scene. The probe is either taken over by them or conducted in conjunction with the local police. But for strange reasons, NIA does not seem to be interested in probing IM terror module busted by the Karnataka Police. The police has clearly stated that the suspects planned terror-related activities in other parts of the country. NIA should have been associated with the case automatically,” said an officer formerly associated with a central investigation agency.
Apparently, the Karnataka Police had intimated NIA about the busting of IM module. “They were here for a day and spoke to the accused. But they did not dig deeper,” said an officer involved in the probe without revealing whether there was any further communication between the Karnataka Police and the NIA in the case. Interestingly, the NIA has not issued any official statement about the matter. Last month, after the Bengaluru police arrested Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who had tweeted pro-Islamic State content, a team from the NIA had grilled him extensively. Similarly, when a low-intensity improvised explosive device went off in Bengaluru killing a lady in the last week of December, the NIA conducted an elaborate probe. They continue to provide inputs in both the cases to the Karnataka Police.
However, in the case of IM terror module, the Karnataka Police has not heard from the NIA after their initial probe though six suspects have been nabbed so far in connection with the case.
The Tamil Nadu Police too was in Bengaluru to grill the suspects to ascertain whether they had supplied explosives for the blasts at the Chennai railway station last year. The role of the suspects in the Hyderabad blasts too is being probed. The police have even stated that the terror suspects might have planned some attack during the Republic Day celebrations in the National Capital Region.
According to reliable sources, there seems to be some difference of opinion among investigation agencies in the case. “The raids were conducted at the homes of the accused in Bhatkal and Bengaluru on the basis of information provided by the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The Karnataka Police has been conducting the probe and they have time until January 21 to grill the suspects. It is not clear whether the NIA is waiting for the Karnataka Police to complete the probe,” the sources said.
“It has been revealed that suspects’ role in various terrorismrelated activities in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu is being probed. Ideally, the NIA should have taken over the probe. But their absence from the case has perplexed many of us,” the sources added.
To make matters worse, the families and the advocates of the accused are alleging that the police is foisting the case by planting evidence.
“We have often noticed that many terror suspects have been let off by the police citing lack of evidence. There have been two such cases in the last two years in Karnataka. It will be only fair if a central agency takes over the investigation,” said Md. Sultan Beary, advocate of one of the accused persons.