NIA set to formally take over Mangaluru blast case
Mangaluru, Nov 23: The Mangaluru autorickshaw blast case would be formally handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) soon, Karnataka DGP Praveen Sood said on Wednesday.
He said the objective of the prime accused Mohammed Shariq was to create a divide between communities.
"What else was the objective? His aim was to create differences between two communities, there is no doubt. Differences between communities be it Hindu, Muslim, or Christian grow when there is a blast. It means destabilising the country. He definitely intended to disturb communal harmony and unity...," the DGP said.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra visited the blast site near here, along with Sood, and also the hospital where Shariq and auto-driver Purushottam Poojary were being treated Jnanedra said Shariq had visited different places like Coimbatore and Kanyakumari and an investigation has been on. Several police teams have been formed and been sent to different places as part of the probe.
Sood said the NIA and other central agencies have been working with the Karnataka police from day-one of the blast, adding that the case would be formally handed over to NIA.
With demand growing for an NIA office in Mangaluru, Jnanendra said the State government has brought this to the notice of the Centre, and expressed confidence there would be set an office in this coastal town.
The Minister said the police were working to find the background of the accused in the November 19 blast at Nagori here, his financiers, and, "the forces which are compelling him to repeatedly do such acts." Jnanendra said Shariq had planned a major blast, but "the bomb exploded midway and did not go off the way it was planned".
"If the entire cooker (carried by Shariq in the autorickshaw) had exploded then it would have led to major damage. He (Shariq) had managed to create a bomb using materials available locally," said the Home Minister.
He said the Home Department has resolved to "completely eradicate the fanatical forces which want bloodbath and kill people and try to disturb the unity and integrity of the country".
"Our department has not taken this case lightly. An indepth study and inquiry will take place. We will expose the forces behind the case," the Minister vowed.
Jnanendra said Shariq was travelling as a Hindu and carrying a Hindu photo identity card with him, "so that no one could suspect him". Further, he used to frequently change his address and that it became difficult to trace him.
The Minister said Shariq was arrested in an objectionable graffiti case in Mangaluru showing his support to the Islamic State and the Lashkar-e-Toiba, but the High Court granted him bail after he spent seven to eight months in jail.
After coming out, he worked in a shop at Thirthahalli in Shivamogga district. He was under watch till then, but he disappeared all of a sudden, Jnanendra said.
According to him, those involved in this case used different modes of communication.
"These people (terror accused) do not use telephone. This is the latest development. They are using different mechanisms for communication," he pointed out.
Sood said the details of the investigation against the financiers and organisations cannot be revealed now.
"The survival of the accused is important, for we have to interrogate him. We have got many 'technical materials' such as phones and computers. We have to confront him with that," Sood explained.
Sood requested the media to not portray people brought for interrogation as accused.
Citing the example of Prem Raj, whose Aadhaar card Shariq had used, Sood said he has an important role in the investigation, as he is the main witness.
Also, the police would call Mohan Kumar who had rented his house in Mysuru to Shariq and also question some people from Coimbatore.
"We are calling them for their help, not to arrest them. You are showing them as accused. Please don't," said the DGP said.
The blast in the moving autorickshaw left Shariq and its driver with burns. The two were being treated in the private hospital here.
While efforts were on to gather material to ensure Shariq's conviction, the government was trying to ensure his recovery, Jnanendra said.
Stating that a team of eight doctors was treating the driver and Shariq, Jnanendra said he expected that the blast accused would be able to speak soon. "He has to recover completely, only then can we get information. Today, we spoke to the doctors and told them to ensure that he recovers. Once he speaks, we will gather most of the info to continue our investigation," the Home Minister said.
He further said the government was bearing the treatment cost of the driver and also mulling over providing financial assistance to his family.
Jnanendra said he would speak to the Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai regarding this once he reaches Bengaluru.