Coimbatore car blast: Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi questions delay in handing over probe to NIA; DMK govt hits back

DMK Minister Thangam Thennarasu said the Tamil Nadu police had been in constant touch with the NIA and IB officials.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Oct 28, 2022 | 8:49 PMUpdatedOct 29, 2022 | 11:15 AM

Governor Ravi

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi on Friday, 28 October, questioned the government for the ‘delay’ in handing over the Coimbatore car blast case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

A 29-year-old engineering graduate, Jameesha Mubin, was killed when an LPG cylinder kept in the car went off, gutting the vehicle on 23 October. He was in the car.

Governor Ravi sought to know why the government took four days to transfer the case to the NIA despite knowing within hours of the blast that it was a “terrorist attack.”

“It was clear that all the materials they (Mubin and others) had were part of a larger conspiracy. I give credit to the Tamil Nadu police. The Tamil Nadu police are one of the most efficient police in the country. But the question is, why did it take four or more than four days to bring in the NIA?” the Governor asked.

He was speaking at a hostel inauguration function organised by a private naturopathy institute in Coimbatore. Ravi, who was previously the Deputy National Security Advisor, pointed out that in case of terror attacks, time is of utmost importance.

“The Tamil Nadu police did an excellent job. But Tamil Nadu police are an instrument. Tamil Nadu Police cannot communicate with the NIA and ask them to come. But those who were supposed to take the decision, they took more than four days. I do not like to dwell more on it,” he said.

Related: Why is Coimbatore communal cauldron of Tamil Nadu?

“Here (Tamil Nadu), the law enforcement agencies know they are capable. They need a free hand and they must be given a free hand. When it comes to terrorism, I don’t think we need to go soft on it…I appeal to others, not to go soft on terrorism. Don’t dither or leave a message which can be ambiguous when it comes to terrorism and terrorists. One must be clear-headed. One must be decisive. We must be tough in our words and action,” the Governor added.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP, especially its chief K Annamalai, had levelled the same allegation against the MK Stalin-led DMK government.

The BJP accused the DMK government of intelligence failure and minority appeasement by downplaying the blast

Government denies charge

Responding to the Governor, DMK minister Thangam Thennarasu said the state police had been in constant touch with the NIA and the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The investigators shared all information gathered with the central agencies, he told a news conference on Friday, 28 October, evening.

Two days after the incident, on October 25, the Coimbatore police invoked the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after it became clear that the blast was a fallout of a suspected terror plot. The next day, a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Stalin decided to recommend the transfer of investigation to the NIA.

Providing a timeline of the police probe — to establish hat the Tamil Nadu police had acted in a prompt and efficient manner — the DMK stated that the NIA could register suo motu case in incidents having any terror angles.

He also questioned why the NIA had let Mubin go despite examining him in 2019 for his suspected links with terror elements.

Thennarasu further pointed out that in other parts of the country, such as in Delhi and West Bengal, the probe was transferred to the NIA several days or months after similar incidents had taken place.

Meanwhile, the NIA on Friday registered a first information report. The FIR said the police had seized 109 articles from Mubin’s residence.

The confiscated items included potassium nitrate, black powder, matchbox, fuse cracker, nitroglycerin, red phosphorous, PETN powder, aluminium powder, OXY 99 portable pure oxygen cylinder, sulphur powder, glass marble, 9-volt battery, iron nails, switch, Indane gas cylinder, notebooks on Islamic ideology and details about jihad, etc.

Governor’s strong message on terrorism

Speaking about how certain forces are trying to demoralise the people by creating terror modules and launching terror attacks, Governor Ravi said that when it comes to terrorism, there should not be any soft-peddling or lack of resolve by political parties.

He emphasised that the central and state agencies should work in tandem while dealing with terrorism and related activities.

Specifically talking about Coimbatore, the Governor stated that the place is known for “hatching terror modules for a very long time”.

“There have been terror attacks, IEDs, explosive devices to inflict terror. Some of them were caught. Those who have been involved or those who have been known to be involved were on our radar even in the past. It is not that they have come for the first time. Where did we miss? Did we miss our monitoring system?” he wondered.

Drawing attention to “people getting trained and groomed to be sent to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan” the Governor remarked that what happened in Coimbatore a few days ago “must not be taken lightly”.

Praise for police

Apart from lauding the Tamil Nadu police for their efficiency in handling the Coimbatore car blast case, the Governor opined that he personally knew how “professionally competent” and “efficient” the state police force was as they had given him “excellent material” when he was compiling information on the working of terror modules in his capacity as the deputy National Security Advisor.

Referring to the “terrorist organisation” Popular Front of India, he further stated that it was the Tamil Nadu police that gave him the “largest” and “most reliable” material on the activities of the organisation.

“There were very few other state police that gave me that much information,” Governor Ravi added.