The National Investigating Agency is the premier agency of the country to investigate matters pertaining to terrorism. While it has taken over the probe in several states affected by terrorism for some strange reason it is missing in action when it comes to Karnataka.
The NIA was very much in existence at the time of the Malleshwaram, Church Street blasts, the Mehdi episode and now the Bhatkal terror plot. While we saw the presence of the NIA at the spot in the Malleshwaram and Church Street blast for some strange reason, the probe was never taken over by the agency.
The Malleshwaram blasts case
The blast which took place outside the BJP office in Malleshwaram just before the Karnataka went into the assembly elections. The probe is being handled by the Bengaluru police, although after the incident we did see a lot of NIA officers present at the spot.
The NIA which we though would take up this case however stayed away. The Karnataka government of the day had even said that if the need be the NIA would be roped in.
However the NIA came to the spot, examined the site and picked up details regarding the explosives used in the blast. This was used for their analysis as the NIA is building up a data bank detailing the kind of explosives used in the case.
The Mehdi Masroor case
This case had made international headlines and it had been found that Mehdi Masroor Biswas was tweeting in favour of the ISIS under the Twitter handle @shammiwitness.
This was a case related to the ISIS and the NIA was at that time handling the case of Areef Majeed who had just returned from Iraq. Majeed had left India to join the ISIS but after being spooked with the blood shed returned home.
While it was expected that the NIA would take over the Mehdi case just as did in the Majeed incident, surprisingly the agency stayed away. Many would believe that the Mehdi case was not handled too well and instead of sticking to the point and analyzing his tweets, the Bengaluru police went a bit over board.
What we saw in the Mehdi case was moving away from the basic crime and trying to find if he was some kind of a South India Commander as reported by some television channels. The police had to ultimately tell the court that they did not want to seek extension of his police remand. Currently he is in judicial custody.
The Church Steet blasts
Here again the NIA was found at the spot. Like the Malleshwaram blast case here too the NIA had visited the spot and was conducting an analysis of the explosives.
It is surprising that the NIA did not take over this case considering that everyone was screaming from roof tops that the same 5 member SIMI gang which had escaped from the Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh jail could be behind it. The NIA is investigating several cases pertaining to the SIMI. Patna, Bodhgaya and the Chennai train blasts have all had a SIMI hand in it according to the NIA.
The NIA did claim that they would assist in the probe. However there was a clear tussle which none of us could see as the police appeared to be in a teething hurry to prove a point.
What the police team of every state do not realize is that modules which carry out blasts are 99 out 100 times not from the same state. Terrorism has a nation wide ramification and hence due to jurisdictional hassle it is best that a centralized agency probes the case.
The Bhatkal terror plot
It may be too early in the day to ask why the NIA is not probing this case. However it could be said with a certain amount of confidence that the NIA will stay away from this case as well.
The Bhatkal terror plot involves a bunch of youth who were in touch allegedly with a handler in the UAE and were planning a series of attacks in Karnataka.
NIA sources say that they would wait and watch before taking over the probe. However they would also add that there is no formal request. The fact of the matter is that the NIA charter clearly states that they need no formal request.
Is the NIA upset with the Karnataka police?
Speaking to several officers with the NIA, one gets the impression that there is a certain level of discomfort in the agency when it comes to cases in Karnataka. NIA officers say that they would rather observe than get into the probe.
Although none of the officers spell it out directly, they do quote the case in which the Bengaluru police had arrested several youth in connection with an assassination plot involving journalists and Hindu leaders.
They feel that the case had potential, but was hurried up. When the police appeared to have reached a dead end, they requested the NIA to take over the probe. However after the NIA took over, they had file B reports (closure of the case) against several persons in this case.
It was embarrassing
The NIA says that it was made to look as though they had been roped into the case only file a closure against some of the persons involved in the case. The probe was handed over to us when the police appeared to have hit a dead end.
In the eye of the public it was made to seem as though the NIA messed up the case and we were responsible for closing the case against some persons.
However in reality what we realized after taking up the case was that some of the charges were slapped without a proper probe. Some officers appeared to have jumped the gun and we had no choice to close it lest we earned the wrath of the court.
It is never good to have the court pass strictures against any agency. Passing of strictures by a court puts into question the ability of an agency. The NIA is a centralized agency which deals with cases having international ramifications.
With strictures against us, it becomes difficult to probe cases especially when we have so many cases in which we need to deal with the international police and seek the extradition of criminals lodged abroad.