Coimbatore, Mangaluru blasts: NIA conducts raids at multiple places in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka

Based on statements by the detainees, the NIA conducted raids at places of those associated with the Thowheed Jamath.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Feb 15, 2023 | 1:56 PM Updated Feb 15, 2023 | 3:04 PM

NIA Raids

In a massive, coordinated early morning operation, the National Investigative Agency (NIA) conducted swooped down on 40 places in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, on Wednesday, 15 February, in connection with the Coimbatore car blast of 23 October and the Mangaluru cooker blast of 19 November, last year.

The searches were conducted at 32 locations in Tamil Nadu and Kerala with regard to the Coimbatore blast case and eight locations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka regarding the Mangaluru cooker blast case.

In the Coimbatore blast case, the raids were conducted in the districts of Coimbatore (14), Trichy (1), Nilgiris (2), Tirunelveli (3), Tuticorin (1), Chennai (3), Thiruvannamalai (2), Dindigul (1), Mayiladuthurai (1), Krishnagiri (1), Kanyakumari (1) and Tenkasi (1) of Tamil Nadu, and Ernakulam (1) of Kerala

In Coimbatore, a team conducted searches at five places in Ukkadam, Karumbukkadai, and Kuniyamuthur.

Another team conducted the raid at Kadayanallur in the Tenkasi district. Searches were also conducted in Karika Thoppu in Tirunelveli and in Palani in Dindigul.

In Kerala, the raids were conducted on the basis of information given by the wife of Jamesha Mubin, the suspect behind the blast.

“Searches conducted today have led to seizure of a large number of digital devices and cash amounting to ₹4 lakh in the two cases. Further investigations in these two cases are in progress,” the NIA said in a press release

Mangaluru cooker blast

Raids in connection with the Mangaluru blast were conducted at eight locations in the districts of Tiruppur (2) and Coimbatore (1) of Tamil Nadu, Ernakulam (4) of Kerala and Mysuru (1) of Karnataka

The raids in Kerala were conducted at Aluva, Edathala, Mattancherry, and two locations in Paravoor in the Ernakulam district.

According to NIA, the raids in Karnataka were conducted in Mysuru.

This is the second operation in connection with the car blast after the NIA took over the investigation.

The Mangaluru blast case relates to the blast of a pressure cooker that took place in a moving auto-rickshaw in the Mangaluru City of Karnataka on 19 November.

The accused, Mohammad Shariq, was carrying the bomb to plant it in a public place, but it is believed to have gone off accidentally. The case was taken over by NIA on 23 November last year.

Earlier, the NIA conducted raids in some places in Mangaluru in relation to the case.

The NIA probe

After taking over the investigation of the Coimbatore blast case from the Coimbatore City police on 27 October last year, the NIA, on 28 December, arrested Umar Faaruq, Mohammed Thoufeek, and Ferose Khan — residents of Coimbatore — in connection with the blast.

NIA interrogated them for nearly 10 days and later produced them in the NIA Special Court at Poonamallee. The court placed them in judicial custody on 17 January.

Based on the statements of the detainees, the central agency has been conducting raids in places linked to those associated with the Thowheed Jamath, an organisation suspected to have links with the Islamic State (IS).

Related: NIA records statement of the wife of Coimbatore blast accused

NIA collecting evidence

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) told South First that the NIA sleuths were collecting basic incriminating shreds of evidence against the persons whose names were spilt by the arrested persons during the interrogation. Their social media contacts were also under surveillance.

On 23 October, Jamesha Mubin — a suspected suicide bomber — was in a car filled with gas cylinders and explosives in front of Sangameshwarar Temple at Kottaimedu near Ukkadam in Coimbatore.

The car went up in an explosion, killing Mubin, but leaving the temple unscathed. It is still not clear whether he triggered the explosion, or the blast was accidental.

The Tamil Nadu police initially arrested six persons, including Muhammad Azharudheen, Muhammad Riyas, Muhammad Thalha, Muhammad Nawaz Ismail, Afsar Khan, and Firoz Ismail, in connection with the incident. They were later handed over to the NIA.

During the interrogation of the accused, the NIA learned that the blast was a planned terror attack.

(With inputs from KA Shaji in Thiruvananthapuram, and Bellie Thomas in Bengaluru)