NIA probe against Popularfront Terrorists sabbotaged

published on November 26, 2010

NIA probe unlikely into attack on Kerala prof
VR Jayaraj | Kochi – Daily Pioneer

It is now almost certain that the NIA will not investigate the Taliban-model Islamist attack on college professor TJ Joseph of Kerala’s Muvattupuzha. According to sources, NIA chief SC Sinha had given clear indications on this at the security meet held in Bangalore recently.

There are allegations that the NIA had dropped its earlier decision to take up the probe due to the intervention by some heavyweights in the Union Home Ministry. As late as on November 14, NIA’s operations chief Loknath Behra had said in Kochi that the agency was not averse to taking over the probe into the attack on the professor from the Kerala Police.

The NIA chief is said to have indicated in the conference that the agency did not want to take up the probe into the attack on Prof Joseph as it was already looking into several major terror cases in Kerala. That the State Home Department was not enthusiastic about an NIA probe is also one of the reasons behind the agency’s thinking, it is reported.

Though DGP Jacob Punnoose and IGP (Internal Security) S Ananthakrishnan had represented Kerala at the security meet, they expressed no specific opinion about the question of the NIA probing the attack. DGPs of all the South Indian States had participated in the conference which was convened by the NIA chief.

A top NIA official had recently visited Kochi to seek legal advice on taking over the probe into the attack on the professor after the agency received reports from Central Intelligence agencies that there were serious lapses in the investigations by the Kerala Police and that efforts were being made to sabotage the probe.

It is alleged that certain Congress leaders from the State had intervened to block an NIA probe with the intention of not antagonizing the Muslim community in the context of the Assembly elections due in April-May next. These leaders were afraid that the Islamists would turn against the party if the NIA was called in to probe the attack.

Islamists belonging to the Popular Front of India had attacked Joseph, a professor at Church-run Newman College in Thodupuzha, Idukki and cut off his right hand for preparing a question paper that blasphemed Prophet Muhammad. Joseph was later suspended by the college management in the name of the same question paper.

NIA official Behra had said in Kochi that the NIA could take over the probe into the attack as the Kerala Police had included charges that came under the purview of the agency. The case is presently being handled by a special Crime Branch team of the Kerala Police and its newly formed special wing, the Internal Security Investigation Team.

The NIA had earlier declined to take up the case on the ground that the Kerala Police had not charged the accused with offences that could give a role for the agency in the probe. However, the police team probing the case later revealed that such charges had also been included in the case.

Behra had also said that it was now up to the Kerala Government to take a decision on whether the case should be handed over to the NIA. He had indicated that the agency could start investigations once the Centre cleared it. The Kerala Police had already arrested m ore than 25 of the total 53 accused in the case.

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