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NIA begins probe into Mangaluru blast after registering fresh FIR

Among the challenges before the NIA is the interrogation of Mohd Shariq, who has been in hospital with 40% burns since the blast, and finding possible links to another explosion in Coimbatore.

According to the NIA, the gravity of the case requires an investigation by the central agency. (File)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken up the probe into the November 19 blast that occurred in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru in which a passenger, allegedly carrying an improvised explosive device, was injured along with the autorickshaw driver, officers said.

The case was handed over to the central agency by the Karnataka government and the NIA registered a fresh FIR on November 23. Mangaluru police commissioner N Shashi Kumar stated Thursday that the NIA had taken over the investigation from the Mangaluru police.

According to the FIR registered by the NIA in New Delhi last week and transferred to a special court for NIA cases in Karnataka, the central government has received information relating to an explosion in an autorickshaw belonging to the driver K Purushotham when he was carrying a passenger from Kankanady police station to the Pumpwell area in Mangaluru.

“…the complainant and the passenger/accused got severely injured and the autorickshaw got damaged. From the place of occurrence, police recovered a five-litre pressure cooker, three nine-volt batteries, one damaged circuit, and other materials usually used for the preparation of IEDs,” the NIA FIR says.

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According to the complaint, the police probe revealed that the passenger carrying the IED was Mohammed Shariq alias Premraj, 24. A search of his residence in Mysuru revealed “various chemical substances, mechanical tools, and electrical items that are used for the preparation of IEDs”.

Earlier the case had been registered by the Kankanady police station. According to the NIA, the gravity of the case requires an investigation by the central agency.

Among the challenges before the NIA is the interrogation of Shariq who has been in hospital since November 19 after suffering 40 per cent burn injuries, finding possible links to a blast that occurred on October 23 in Coimbatore, finding the actual purpose of the IED that exploded and the people behind the planning.

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The NIA has also taken up the investigation of an FIR with regard to a terror conspiracy initially registered by the Shivamogga police in Karnataka in September where the possible role of Shariq in efforts to build bombs first emerged.

The agency registered the FIR in the Shivamogga case four days before the Mangaluru blast and named Shariq, Maaz Ahmed, 22, and Syed Yasin, 22, for alleged involvement in carrying out an experimental bomb blast near Yasin’s house in Shivamogga earlier this year.

The trio “hatched a conspiracy to further the terrorist activities of the banned terrorist organisation Islamic State and to disturb the unity, security, and sovereignty of the country and wage war against India,” the NIA has said quoting an original FIR registered by the Shivamogga Rural police on September 20, 2022.

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The alleged terrorist activities occurred between January 1, 2022 and September 19, 2022, states the NIA complaint. As part of the activities, Shariq and the others “stored raw materials required to make explosives and experimentally exploded a bomb made by them at a vacant place near the house of the accused and burnt the national flag of India,” the NIA said.

Investigation into a stabbing incident that occurred in Shivamogga on Independence Day this year provided Karnataka Police the first inkling of the involvement of Shariq in attempts to fabricate improvised explosive devices and his dalliance with extremist ideology.

Shariq, a BCom student, was in jail for eight months in 2021 for writing provocative graffiti on the wall of a police station in Mangaluru in late 2020. He was released on bail in July 2021. He fled Shivamogga and allegedly went underground in August 2022 when the Shivamogga police arrested Jabi for the Independence Day stabbing.

The police are yet to obtain a formal statement from Shariq on the purpose of his visit to Mangaluru on November 19 with an IED. The surmise is that Shariq intended to plant the device at a crowded place for maximum impact from the crudely constructed device which eventually exploded in his lap, leaving him with serious burn injuries.

First published on: 02-12-2022 at 13:00 IST
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