Kerala Govt eager to wash hands off terror cases

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi published on December 20, 2009

Eager to avoid the risk of irking certain sections of the Muslim votebank through investigations by the State police in terror cases, the CPI(M)-led LDF Government in Kerala is preparing to hand over all terror-related cases in the State to the National Investigation Agency.

The move is to hand over cases like those of the Kalamassery bus-burning, the blast at the Ernakulam district collectorate building off Kochi, the recruitment of youths into LeT, the blats in a fishing boat at Beypore and the burning of its remains later, etc. The NIA has already started probe into the March, 2006 twin blasts in Kozhikode city.

The justification for the move to hand over such terror cases to the NIA as international connections are involved in these but sources indicate that this is more of a political move with the objective of not antagonizing the Muslims. There is already a feeling in the CPI(M) that the arrest of Sufiya Madani, wife of Abdul Nasser Madani, as tenth accused in the bus-burning case has put the party and the LDF in a difficult spot as far as the votebank is concerned.

The decision is reportedly in the context of the feeling among a section of the voters who are loyal towards Abdul Nasser Madani that the LDF had betrayed him despite the support it enjoyed from him in the last Lok Sabha elections. Immediately after the arrest of Sufiya on Thursday last, Madani had furiously stated at a Press conference that the police of the LDF had arrested his “innocent” wife on false charges, implying that he did not expect such action from the CPI(M)-led Government.

Top brass of the police say that they alone cannot bring the investigations into most of the present terror cases in Kerala to a justifiable conclusion because of the international connections of the perpetrators. However, sources say that the Police Department is still not in favour of handing over the investigations into all these cases in full to the NIA as this would send out a bad message about the efficiency of the Kerala Police.

A top police official said that the Kerala Police was capable of cracking any case provided access was there to required areas. “We have proved this. What we need is the help of agencies like the NIA. For example, we may not be able to probe into the background of Sarfaras Nawaz, the Oman-based fund-raiser who had provided money for the Bangalore blasts. In such areas, we need the help of agencies like the NIA, which is said to have easy access to the services of the IB and RAW,” said the official.

But sources also said that the Leftist political leadership is not in favour of this “half us, half them” attitude as far as investigations were concerned. “We have seen the CPI(M) leaders writhing in their inability to face questions like how they could guarantee unbiased and sincere probes against people like Madani even when they are in alliance with his party. Handing over the terror cases to an external agency can help them here,” said a retired civil servant.

He said that if the NIA was probing the terror cases the political leadership had a twin advantage. “On the one hand, they can find fault with the Centre if he probes fail to produce any positive result. On the other, they can claim “innocence” if the probes lead to events that are undesirable to the votebank that supports them,” said the former civil servant.

The senior police official, however, said that the Kerala Police was not in competition with the NIA. IN fact, the NIA was formed on the request of the states including Kerala. “There is also no need for controversies in matters related to probes into cases on terror elements with international connections. We are always ready to extend help and to take it when needed,” said the official.

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