Five suspected members of terror outfit Islamic State (IS) were arrested and nine others detained by the NIA in cooperation with state police agencies across India, a Home ministry official said on Friday. Informed sources said all the raids at 12 locations in six cities were conducted on tipoffs that the IS sympathisers were planning bomb attacks in several cities on the Republic Day (January 26).
The raids were conducted in Bengaluru, Tumkur in Karnataka and Mangalore in Karnataka, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. Incriminating documents, mobiles, laptops and unaccounted cash and material used in making bombs were seized during the raids. Huge quantities of arms and ammunition were seized from the rented house of two of the suspects in Bengaluru, an official told MEDIA.
“The National Investigation Agency has arrested five suspected terrorists and detained nine others in a joint operation with state police organisations across India,” Home Ministry Joint Secretary (Internal Security) M.A. Ganapathy said. Ganapathy said some of them were planning to organise a meeting before carrying out the attacks. He said all suspects are “radicalised youths” and more information would come out once ongoing investigations are over.
The suspects were planning to establish a channel of procurement of explosives and weapons, identify locations for training camps, motivate new recruits to target police officers, foreigners in India, an NIA official said.
The arrested men Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh, Mohammad Nafees Khan, Mohammad Shareef Mounuddin Khan, Najmul Huda and Mohammad Afzal are accused of encouraging the youth to join the IS. Mudabbir is from Thane near Mumbai, while Nafees and Shareef from Hyderabad. Najmul lives in Mangalore while Afzal hails from Banglore. “The arrested men are in the age group of 25 to 35 with the exception of one who is aged 54,” Ganapathy said. “We have no indication so far that they were planning a terror attack in Delhi during the Republic Day function,” the officer said.
An NIA official, on the condition of anonymity, told MEDIA that four of the detained suspects were Asif, Sayed and Ahad all from Bengaluru and Syed Mujahid Husain from Tumkur. Of the remaining suspects, three are from Mumbai, and one each from Lucknow and Manglore.
“The NIA with the help of local police picked 14 youths from different cities in raids since Thursday night. They were under security surveillance regarding their activities on the social media,” the official said. The nine suspects, yet to be arrested formally, are being interrogated for their alleged links with the IS sympathisers and their role in the possible terror strikes.
According to sources, the NIA is on the lookout for five to eight more suspects. Meanwhile, Delhi Police on Friday issued an alert after a taxi driver alleged carjacked by three unidentified people from Pathankot in Punjab was found dead in Himachal Pradesh. Through its official Twitter handle, the Delhi Police released photographs of three suspects and the details of a Maruti Alto car, bearing registration number HP01D2440, which was hired by them on Sunday.
The body was found on Wednesday. Taxi driver Vijay Kumar was later found dead at the Kalta bridge in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, a police officer said. Kumar was a resident of Gaggal in Kangra. Investigating agencies said the vehicle, registered with a travel agency, was untraceable. Security agencies relate the incident to happenings prior to the attack on Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot in Punjab on January 2, in which taxi driver Ikagar Singh was killed by terrorists.
“People should not panic as security agencies are doing their best… The message is to just alert the people. The citizens should inform the police control room if they observe any suspicious activity,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajan Bhagat told MEDIA.