Kozhikode blasts: NIA probe begins

via Pioneer News Service | New Delhi / Kozhikode published on December 7, 2009

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) started the process of probe into the twin blasts at Kozhikode with the appointment of Sajid Farid Shapu, Superintendent of Police, as officer in charge. Shapu is a Maharashtra cadre IPS officer known for his specialization in anti-Naxalite operations.

The NIA decided to take over the probe into the Kozhikode blasts from the Crime Branch of the Kerala Police due to the possibility of involvement of foreign elements behind the attack. The Kerala Police will hand over all the information and evidences it has gathered so far to the NIA.

The Kerala Police will also give the NIA access to Muhammad Abdul Halim, third accused in the blasts case, in which there are a total of five accused. LeT’s South India commander Thadiyantavide Nazeer, who is presently in the custody of the Karnataka Police, is the prime accused in this case. The NIA is expected to register two cases into the blasts.

Sajid Farid Shapu had shot to fame in 2007 with the killing of Chambal dacoit Pratap Gadaria in the Kanerkho-Amkho forest. “Pratap was gunned down, and we won over Rs 14,00,000 in bounty (reward money) for wiping out his dreaded gang of dacoits,” Shapu told a newspaper in October, 2008. He joined the NIA after it was constituted.

The damages caused by the blasts at two bus stations in Kozhikode on March 3, 2006 were minimal but their significance was huge as far as the police was concerned. As per information received by the investigators, the twin blasts were carried out as “dry runs” for the explosions carried out in various Indian cities by terrorist last year.

Crucial information about the Kozhikode blasts was provided to the police by Halim who was arrested during the probe into the pipe bomb explosion at the Ernakulam district Collectorate building off Kochi on July 10. The investigators had found out that the technical and financial assistance for the Kozhikode blasts had come through terror routes with international links.

The NIA had decided to take over the investigations into the Kozhikode blasts after it was convinced that the Kerala Police was not showing the required enthusiasm in the probe. There were allegations that there were no serious efforts from the part of the State police in the probe even after it was revealed that the blasts were part of a terrorist design.

Though the investigators were of the assumption that the Kozhikode blasts were a dry run for the Bangalore explosions, Halim had said that they were carried out in retaliation against the riots in Marad.

The Kozhikode blast case was one of the three cases being probed till now by the Crime Branch of the State police. The other cases were related to the burning of the Tamil nadu bus in Kalamassery and the Ernakulam district collectorate blast. NIA chief Radha Vinod Raju ahd earlier asked the Kerala Police to hand over the cases considering their terror links.

Though the NIA has taken over the probe into the Kozhikode blasts, the Kerala Police has adopted a position that there is no need for them to take the initiative to hand over the other two cases, especially the Ernakulam blast, to the agency. However, the stand of Director General Police Jacob Punnoose is that the NIA has the authority to probe any case in the country and the Kerala Police’s position is immaterial with regard to this.

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