The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the investigation into the November 19 pressure cooker blast in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru wherein a passenger, identified as Mohammed Shariq, was carrying a pressure cooker bomb made from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
The anti-terror agency took over the case this week soon after the Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalization (CTCR) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs handed over the investigation to it considering a terror plot behind the act. Speaking to ANI on Thursday, N Shashikumar, Mangaluru Police Commissioner said, the case which was with Mangaluru City police will be investigated by NIA.
“On Wednesday doctor certified that the accused is now fit to be questioned. So our investigating officer and their team questioned him on certain inputs, which were to be taken up in the investigation. We received instructions from our chief office that the case is being transferred to NIA and we have finished the formalities. They are taking up the case for further investigation. Henceforth, the case which was with Mangaluru City police will be investigated by NIA,” said Shashikumar on Thursday.
The auto-rickshaw exploded leading to injuries to both the passenger, Mohammed Shariq, who was carrying a pressure cooker bomb made IED and the autorickshaw driver Purushottam Poojari. The cooker bomb was designed to carry out a large-scale attack to fuel communal tensions in the coastal region and in the state.
Shariq was en-route to a pre-decided location for carrying out the blast when the explosion took place. The Forensic Science Laboratory Division (FSL) team reached the house rented by Shariq in Mysore the next day and recovered materials used to make explosives.
The NIA has started its investigation under the provision of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and investigating officers have started questioning the main accused Shariq as the state police have found his links with the Islamic State (IS) in its investigation, and he had radicalised his schoolmates, Syed Yasin and Muneer Ahmed, and introduced them to IS as well.
Together, the three of them had experimented and rehearsed the explosion on the banks of the Tunga river in the Shivamogga district. The practice explosion was also reportedly successful. According to sources, the main accused, Shariq, had a handler who was orchestrating and instructing him regarding all these activities.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra earlier this month had sent a request to the MHA to hand over the case to NIA.
The state police probe has also revealed that the conspiracy was hatched to carry out blasts and put the blame on Hindu organisations and to reignite a debate on ‘Hindu terrorism’ in the country.