Mangaluru blast case probe expands to more states, three detained in Karnataka

Investigators reportedly found bomb-making material and evidence in suspect Shariq's rented accommodation in Mysuru.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Nov 21, 2022 | 2:54 PMUpdatedNov 21, 2022 | 2:58 PM

Prime accused Mohammad Shariq's stepmother and sister identified him at the hospital on Monday, 21 November (Supplied).

The probe into the 19 November low-intensity explosion in a moving autorickshaw in Karnataka’s Mangaluru has been expanded to more states.

On Sunday, 20 November, Coimbatore police detained a physical education teacher for questioning. Reportedly, he provided his Aadhaar card to Mohammad Shariq, the prime suspect now undergoing treatment for burns suffered in the blast, to procure a Sim card.

The teacher, identified as Surendran, had stayed with Shareeq in a dormitory in the first week of September.

Besides 24-year-old Shariq, autorickshaw driver Purushotham, too, suffered critical injuries when a pressure cooker rigged with explosives went off in the three-wheeler near Kankanadi police station.

On Monday, 21 November, Shariq’s stepmom and sister identified him at the Father Muller Medical College Hospital. The Mangaluru city police had summoned them from their residence at Thirthahalli in Shivamogga.

Kerala police join the probe

The anti-terrorist squad of the Kerala police, meanwhile, joined the probe after it was found that Shariq had reportedly received a shipment from Amazon while he was in Aluva.

Mohammad Shariq, the prime suspect in the Mangaluru blast case (Screen grab).

Mohammad Shariq, the prime suspect in the Mangaluru blast case (Screengrab).

“The Karnataka police have found that a consignment was sent to him at an Aluva address. We have despatched a team to Mangaluru for further investigation,” a senior ATS officer told South First.

Aluva in Ernakulam district is a stronghold of the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI). It has been suspected that Shariq entered Kerala via Thiruvananthapuram from Tamil Nadu rather than taking the shorter Palakkad route.

On Sunday, the Karnataka police searched a house in Mysuru, where Shariq had stayed for about 40 days. He had reportedly used another person’s Aadhaar card to take the house on the 10th Cross in Metagalli’s Lokanayaka Nagar on rent.

Electronic gadgets, three pressure cookers, two circuit boards, mobile phone panels, wires, batteries and bolts were found in the house. The police also confiscated debit, Aadhaar and PAN cards.

The search team included experts from the bomb detection and disposal squad, and forensic unit.

A team of investigators led by Mysuru city police commissioner B Ramesh questioned the house owner, Mohan Kumar, at the Metagalli police station.

“A young man came to my house, seeking a place on rent. He took the house for one-and-a-half months. I did not know about his terror activities,” Kumar reportedly told the police.

Also read: Who is Mohammad Sharif?

Identity theft

Incidentally, the Mangaluru police had found an Aadhaar card issued to one Premraj Hutagi from the autorickshaw. The man is not a suspect in the case.

“Premraj is a victim of identity theft,” tweeted state police chief Praveen Sood.

Premraj Hutagi, a railway employee from Hubbali, said he had lost his Aadhaar card on a bus. Shariq had reportedly used it to take the Mysuru house on rent.

Karnataka’s Director General of Police Praveen Sood on Sunday, 20 November, tweeted that the blast was not accidental. It was “an act of terror”, he added.

Three persons detained

Investigators also found that Shariq had frequented a mobile shop at Agrahara to learn phone repair. A local resident, Syed Ahmed, who used to accompany the suspect, has been detained and shifted to T Narsipura in Mysuru for questioning.

The police have also picked up another person for interrogation. His identity was not revealed.

An NIA team, meanwhile, detained a local leader of the banned PFI for questioning. He was picked up while he was heading to the airport to board a flight to Dubai on Sunday, sources said.

The man was identified as Ijaz Ahmed of Panemangalore city upon Netravati River in Dakshina Kannada’s Bantwal taluk, some 25 km east of Mangalore city centre.

Bommai vows to crack the case

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai expressed confidence that the investigators would get to the root of the blast case. “The bomb blast in Mangaluru looks like an ‘act of terror’. The government will crack this case,” he told reporters in Ballari on Sunday.

“The IED exploded inside a pressure cooker in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru on Saturday. Two persons have been injured. The police have taken up the case seriously and started an investigation,” Bommai said.

“The NIA and other agencies have already visited the blast site and are probing all angles. More information will be extracted from the injured suspect. It has been revealed that he had visited several places, including Coimbatore. He may have links with terrorist organisations,” stated Bommai.

Investigators are also checking if the Mangaluru incident has any links with the 23 October car blast at Ukkadam in Coimbatore. The prime suspect in the case, 29-year-old Jameesha Mubin, was killed in the explosion.

Following the Mangaluru blast, the police have stepped up surveillance in Coimbatore.