The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two alleged operatives of the global terror group Islamic State (IS) in connection with the Shivamogga IS conspiracy case.
Four other accused had earlier been arrested in the case, in which Mohammed Shariq, held after a cooker bomb he was carrying exploded in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru in November, was also an accused.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate ED on Wednesday, 11 January, raided a building in Mangaluru as part of a money laundering probe linked to the cooker bomb blast, official sources said.
The two men NIA arrested on Tuesday, 10 January, are Mazin Abdul Rahman from near Hira College in Permannur in Mangaluru, the headquarters of Dakshina Kannada district, and Nadeem Ahmed KA of Devenayakanahalli in Honnali Taluk of Davanagere district.
The probe has revealed that Maaz Muneer and Syed Yasin, two of the four accused arrested earlier by the NIA, had radicalised and recruited Mazin and Nadeem tp execute IS terror activities in India.
“The accused persons recced and attempted or committed acts of sabotage or arson, as part of the larger conspiracy, to further the activities of Islamic State,” NIA said.
Money laundering case
The money laundering case of the federal probe agency is based on an FIR of the NIA.
The ED officials conducted raids at a building in Mangaluru, where a Congress party office is also located, apart from some other locations as part of its efforts to gather documents and evidence in the case filed under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the official sources said.
The sources said the agency searched an office in that building and no raids were conducted on the premises of any political party. Searches were also undertaken at some other places, they said.
‘No connection with Congress’
Refuting the news that the ED raided his house, Congress leader Kimmane Rathnakar told reporters, “There is no connection with the Congress and this family and to this ED raid. There was neither an ED raid at my office nor at my residence.”
“The ED officials had asked for information about the rental agreement of my office. I have provided all the details and cooperated with the central agencies,” stated Rathnakar.
According to sources, “Rathnakar had taken space for rent from Asim, who is said to be the relative of Mohammed Shariq, the main accused in the Mangaluru blast case. This space is an old office of the former minister Rathnakar.”
“The space is still under the control of Rathnakar as the owner is yet to return the advance amount to the former minister, who has paid ₹10 lakh. This is an eight-year rental agreement, which ends in June 2023. Rathnakar is paying ₹1,000 as rent to Asim’s family,” claimed sources.
The Shivamogga terror module had allegedly carried out a trial blast on the banks of the Tunga river last year.
The module was busted after a mob went on a rampage on 15 August last year to protest against some Hindu right-wing members placing a portrait of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar at a public space in Shivamogga city, and stabbed a man.
After arresting them, when they were questioned and their mobile phones checked, it was found that they were inspired by the IS and wanted to carry out “large scale” destruction in Karnataka and other parts of the country, NIA sources said.
Congress leader’s son arrested
Earlier, on 5 January, Brahmavara Congress General Secretary Tejhauddin Sheikh’s son was arrested from his college in Mangaluru in connection with the cooker blast case.
“The NIA officials came this morning, saying they want to question a student in connection with the blast,” a a member of the college staff told PTI.
While BJP leaders accused Congress of having links with a terror case accused, releasing photographs of the arrested person posing with several Congress politicians, the party refused the charge,
“We as politicians don’t reject anyone who wants to click a photo with us. Many people meet us and click photos with us, and we don’t inquire into who they are or what they do always,” Congress MLA UT Khader told South First.
He added, “Irrespective of that, the Congress insists that the law take its own course. No culprit should go unpunished, irrespective of who they are.”
“Our party does not support criminals, unlike the BJP, whose leaders go to the police station to get the accused out of there. Let there be a thorough investigation and the law punish those involved,” said Khader.
The main accused of the blast, Mohammed Shariq, sustained severe burns in the blast on 19 November when he was travelling in an autorickshaw. The vehicle driver also sustained injuries in the explosion.
Shariq is currently under treatment in a government hospital in Bengaluru.
The police also said their handlers outside India even sent a document to guide them in making a bomb.
Coimbatore blast accused questioned
Meanwhile, the NIA, probing the cylinder explosion in a car in Coimbatore in October last year, is quizzing four of the accused brought from Chennai, police said on Wednesday, 11 January.
The four were taken to the house of Jameesha Mubin, who was charred to death in the blast, to collect evidence.
The explosion was seen as a terror attack by Mubin, said the police.
So far, 11 people have been arrested in this connection and lodged in the Puzhal Central prison near Chennai, they said.
(With inputs from PTI)