SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: NIA probes point to Kerala as new hub of terror funds


By Shahina KK

Custodial clutch T Nazir (left) and Shafas are accused in terrorist cases and are being held to unravel their links abroad

THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency (NIA) set up in 2008 to look into cases affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of the country, has been very busy in Kerala. Of a total of 14 cases being investigated by the top intelligence agency, comparable to the FBI of the US, the state has a disproportionately high share of six. The most sensitive is that of a fellow IPS officer who allegedly met ‘wanted men’ on unauthorised trips abroad. This case was taken over by NIA at the request of the state government.

The NIA has taken over most of these cases because it sees a common thread running through them: the routing of funds. Funds for terrorist activities all over the country seem to be coming through Kerala, sources in the NIA reveal. What is already in the public domain, with regard to channeling of funds through Kerala, is the statement by Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan in July 2007 in the Assembly that hawala transactions worth Rs 10,000 crore were taking place in Kerala every year. Intelligence agencies say a good chunk of this goes to spreading extremism. These are the cases the NIA is looking into:

Bomb blasts had taken place on March 3, 2006 at two bus stands of Kozhikode. Two policemen and a porter were injured in the blasts. Nine persons were listed as accused by Kerala Police’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Two of these, who are in Saudi Arabia, were declared fugitives by NIA four months after it took over the case in December 2009. In March, suspected LeT operative T Nazir, under interrogation by the NIA, admitted that he had masterminded the twin blasts. He was escorted to various localities in Kannur including Camp Bazar and Thekki Bazar, where he confessed to having devised the bombs and Payyambalam and Maidanapally beaches where he tested the explosives.

Nazir, described as the South India commander of the LeT outfit, is said to have masterminded a well-orchestrated recruitment drive of Muslim youths to the outfit.

The most sensitive case is that of an IPS officer who is said to have gone abroad on an unauthorised trip

A ‘secret’ meeting was held by 18 people in an auditorium at Panayikkulam in Ernakulam on August 15, 2006. Five among the 18 participants were arrested. The police seized some printed material including the literature of banned SIMI. The case then was handed over to a Joint Investigation Team. The JIT, on further investigation, felt that the remaining 13 persons, who were earlier treated as witnesses by the local police, had also been involved. All but one were arrested and produced in the court, which granted bail to nine.

The police has registered a case on an alleged SIMI camp conducted in December 2007 in Wagamon, Kottayam, based on an intelligence report. In the investigation by JIT, it was found that 43 people from different states had attended the camp. At least two of those who attended the Wagamon camp — Shaduli and Ansar Moulavi — had been arrested by Kerala police on August 15, 2006 for holding a meeting in Binanipuram in Alwaye near Kochi. Both the cases had been handed over to NIA on February 8, 2010.

The investigation starts in a followup to an encounter killing of four Malayalees in J&K in October 2008. Forces say that they were trying to sneak out to Pakistan through the Line of Control. A case was registered and the JIT, in its investigation, found that a meeting had been held in Kannur on August 14, 2008, in which five youth had been selected for arms training under LeT in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Twenty-three were named, including the four killed in this case. The team completed the investigation and submitted the chargesheet in the special court on August 17, 2009. The case was taken over by the NIA four months later.

A bus belonging to the Tamil Nadu Transport Corporation was hijacked and burnt allegedly to protest the harassment of PDP chairman Abdul Nasser Madani in Coimbatore jail — he was later acquitted and formed the PDP. The incident took place on September 9, 2005. Nine persons were named. Sufiya, Madani’s wife was later indicted as one of the accused. T Nazir, who confessed to the twin bus blasts, is also said to have plotted the act of arson to draw attention to Madani’s plight.

The frequent foreign trips of the controversial IGP of Kerala Tomin J Thachankary added him to the list of persons being probed by the NIA. Investigators have been asked to probe into his alleged meetings with those wanted in terror cases and his possession of two passports.

The Centre’s decision to probe the allegations against Thachankary came in the wake of a letter from Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan to the Union Home Ministry seeking a probe against the IPS officer. Thachankary is believed to be the blue-eyed boy of the official faction of the ruling CPM and he has always been on the hit-list of the Chief Minister. The case was taken over by the NIA only a few days ago.

According to Loknath Behra, operations chief of NIA and a Kerala cadre IPS officer, the investigation of the cases relating to the SIMI camps and the Kalamassery bus burning is in the final stage and the chargesheet will be submitted soon. NIA has been given time until August to investigate the cases.

Wahabi influence is said to be growing in northern districts of the state like Malappuram and Kozhikode, where radical groups with steady support from countries like Saudi Arabia are making their voices heard.



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