In its chargesheet in the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) case, in which two of the five accused are from Pune, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has claimed that the accused were “planning mass killings” and had even conducted reconnaisance of “sensitive locations” in Maharashtra that are frequented by foreigners.
On July 12, the NIA had arrested Nabeel Khatri (27), a gymnasium operator from Kondhwa, and Sadiya Shaikh (20), a second-year student of Mass Communication and Journalism in a Baramati college. According to the NIA, both Khatri and Shaikh were allegedly in contact with Kashmiri couple Jahanazaib Sami (36) and his wife Hina Bashir Beigh (39), who were earlier arrested in connection with this case by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell on March 8. The case was later transferred to the NIA.
On Wednesday, the NIA filed a chargesheet against Sami, Beigh, Khatri, Shaikh and one more accused, Abdullah Basith (26), under Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, sedition, creating communal disharmony and relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
According to the NIA, investigation has revealed that Sami, a BTech graduate from Ferozpur, got radicalised and inclined towards the Islamic State and ISKP, a branch of ISIS, by reading about the terror outfits on the internet.
“He established contact with ISIS handler Huzaifa-al-Bakistani and the latter’s father-in-law Abu Usman-Al-Kashmiri, the head of Indian affairs of ISKP, in 2017 on a secure messaging platform. Huzaifa-al-Bakistani further introduced him to Basith, also an IS operative, who is already in judicial custody at Tihar jail in connection with another NIA case of the ISIS’s Abu Dabhi module,” read a NIA statement on the chargesheet.
The NIA claimed that Beigh, who has completed her higher education from Pune, has been radicalised since 2014-15 by reading IS-related content on social media. Sami and Beigh got married in 2017, as both allegedly supported the ideology of ISIS.
Sami, Beigh, Basith and Khatri “have tried to make an improvised explosive device … and were planning to carry out mass killings in crowded places to further the activities of ISIS/ISKP in India. They conducted reconnaissance of certain sensitive locations in Maharashtra, which are frequented by foreigners,” read the NIA statement.
The agency also said that Sami, Beigh, Basith and Shaikh were allegedly “conspiring to utilise the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests to instigate Muslims against the Indian government by coining seditious slogans, making graffiti at public places and highlighting the same on social and international media.”
“They were also provoking some gullible youth to participate in anti-CAA protests actively. In case these protests failed to provoke Muslims, they were planning arson of government buildings and public property, so that riots could happen and they could exploit the sentiments of Muslims,” read the NIA statement.
The NIA also claimed that Sami, Bashir, Basith and Sadiya were continuously in contact with IS operatives based in Khorasan, Iran, and Syria.
“On receiving instructions from ISKP head Abu Usman-Al-Kashmiri, accused Jahanzaib Sami and Abdullah Basith prepared a magazine titled ‘Voice of Hind’, inciting Muslims against non-Muslims and exhorting them to rise against the government of India and join ISIS. The magazine eulogises ISIS/ISKP terrorists, including Huzaifa-al-Bakistani, who was killed in July 2019 in a drone strike in Afghanistan, and denigrates the Indian Constitution and democratic system,” it stated.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sadiya Shaikh’s mother said, “We, her family members, have been kept completely in the dark since the beginning. We do not know what she has been charged with and whether she is getting rightful legal representation.”
Shaikh has been on the radar of investigating agencies for years for her alleged links with ISIS recruiters through social media. She was also held by Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2018 over suspicions about her role in terror activities, but was released due to lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, the NIA also arrested one Abdur Rehman, a medical practitioner from Bengaluru, in connection with this case on August 17. Rehman was allegedly in contact with Sami as part of a conspiracy to promote the activities of ISIS/ISKP, and had also visited an ISIS medical camp in Syria in 2014.
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