NIA traces blasts accused to Gulf

via PNS | Kochi published on February 7, 2010

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the Kozhikode twin blasts case has tracked down two of the absconding accused in the case, Muhammad Azhar and Yusuf, and efforts are on to arrest them. According to sources, the agency has identified the hideout of the two accused in the Gulf.

Shammi Feroze, another accused hiding in the Gulf, is expected to surrender any time now as he has been served a four-day ultimatum for this by the agency. It is said that Shammi Feroze has responded to the NIA order but has filed an application pleading that he had no role in the blast. As per the first information report filed by the NIA on December 22, there were a total of eight accused in the case relating to the blasts that occurred in Kozhikode on March 3, 2006.

Sources said that the NIA was presently watching the hideout of Azhar and Yusuf in the Gulf and that it was monitoring their telephones. It is also said that the agency’s sleuths have already talked to Yusuf through an intermediary and like Shammi Feroze, he also has denied any involvement in the explosions. Yusuf has reportedly informed the agency that he and some others had been trapped in the case by Thadiyantavide Nazeer, South India commander of LeT and first accused in the case.

The agency thinks that interrogating Shammi Feroze could throw light on several aspects of the case. The agency is also confident that a clear picture of the intention and method of the blast could come out once Nazeer, for whom a production warrant has been issued, falls into its custody. Nazeer, arrested in Meghalaya, is presently in the custody of Karnataka Police. His relative and aide Shafaz, who also is in Karnataka Police’s custody, is an accused in the blasts case.

The FIR, filed by the NIA in the Special CBI Court in Ernakulam, was based on the information collected from the interrogation of Muhammad Abdul Halim, who was arrested in July last by the Kerala Police, and the details handed over by the Crime Branch, which had probed the case earlier. Halim was the third accused in the case.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police’s Crime Branch will on Monday hand over to the NIA the information it had collected on the terror training camp held by banned Islamist outfit SIMI in Vagamon, Idukki in December, 2007. With this, the case related to the camp, presently being handled at a court in Kanjirappally, Kottayam, also would be transferred to the CBI court in Ernakulam where other NIA cases are being heard.

The case of the SIMI training camp in Vagamon was first probed by the local police in Mundakkayam, KOttayam and was later taken over by the Crime Branch. The police had identified 32 of the total 43 extremists who had participated in the camp.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan said in the internal security meet in Delhi that the Centre should inform the concerned states before handing over cases to the NIA. He said that he welcomed the constitution of the NIA but pointed out that takeover of cases by the agency without informing the concerned states would affect the morale of the state police forces.

Kerala had protested against the Centre when it had asked the NIA to take over the terror cases in Kerala. Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had severely criticized the Union Government for doing this without informing the State. He had even asked why the NIA was not taking over more serious terror cases like the Mumbai attack and blasts in Bangalore and Ahemdabad. The NIA was presently probing six-terror-related cases in Kerala.

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