Prof-attack accused got external help: NIA

via PNS | Kochi published on November 22, 2011

The NIA has learned that the Islamists who had cut off the right hand of Prof TJ Joseph of Muvattupuzha in Kerala’s Ernakulam district in a Taliban-style attack on July 4, 2010 had received foreign financial assistance for the terror act and later.

The agency has learned that the money from abroad could have been used for arranging vehicles for the attack and other purposes. It has also found that the same forces that had funded the extremists for carrying out the attack were behind reaching help for them for conducting the court cases after the assault.

Following the receipt of this information, an NIA team held inspection at Hiba, a jewelry shop at Aluva near Kochi co-owned by Ayub, who is also one of the 54 accused in the case and is absconding. The NIA thinks that he could have escaped from the country already. Hiba Jewellery was raided and sealed at the very early stages of the investigation into the attack on the professor.

The information the NIA has received is that the financial assistance for the extremists belonging to the Popular Front of India (PFI) had come in the form gold to the jewelry shop. The investigators are of the feeling that the jewelry shop was a front for Ayub’s shady international financial dealings with terror intentions.

There were allegations that some top officials had helped Ayub’s relatives in opening the jewelry shop immediately after a high-level team led by the Superintendent of Police (Aluva Rural) had sealed it two days after the attack on the professor. It had also been alleged that the unaccounted money and gold in the shop had been whisked away with the help of some officials.

The NIA is yet to capture as many as 24 persons accused in the case. The agency had recently told the court that most of them could have fled the country. Officials are of the feeling that the same forced that had helped the extremists in organizing the attack and in conducting the case could have helped the culprits to go abroad.

On April 27, the NIA had told the Special CBI Court in Kochi that the absconding accused had been getting help from Muslim organizations outside the State, following which the court gave permission for a follow-up probe. The Kerala Police had earlier found that some of the accused had connections with certain outfits in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The NIA questioned Nasser, a Hiba Jewellery partner, last week once again in the hope of getting some vital clue about Ayub. The agency has started examining details of telephone calls of Nasser and Ayub. Nasser was arrested in the case earlier and was released on bail. Officials are also examining the documents related with the case and witness statements for clues.

In the context of the reported instruction from the NIA headquarters to its Kochi unit to conclude the probe at the earliest, officials are planning to get the accused living abroad with the help of the External Affairs Department. The move now would be to issue red corner notices for the absconding accused through the Interpol, sources said.

Extremists belong to the PFI and its political wing SDPI had cut off the right hand of Joseph, a Malayalam professor of Church-run Newman College at Thodupuzha in Idukki district, on the morning of July 4 last year when he was returning home with his mother and sister after attending Sunday mass at a local Church in Muvattupuzha.

The Islamists’ Taliban-model attack was said to be an act of vengeance against the professor for preparing a test paper for students in his college which contained a question that allegedly blasphemed Prophet Muhammad. The extremists who had reached the crime spot in a Maruti Omni vehicle cut off the right hand of the professor and threw it into a nearby compound.

The Crime Branch of the Kerala Police which investigated the case first had filed a chargesheet on January 14 this year against 27 arrested accused while the total number of accused was 54. The police were to file a second chargesheet against the remaining 24 accused later. The NIA took over the investigation in March last.

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