The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing an alleged plot by a seven-member group to murder leaders of two Hindu organisations, conducted simultaneous searches at the houses of suspects in Coimbatore, Sivaganga, Nagapattinam, Thoothukudi and Tiruchi on Thursday. The NIA teams seized two laptops, eight mobile phones, five SIM cards, one memory card and 14 documents during the searches.In Coimbatore, the houses of a 22-year-old man from G.M. Nagar and a 30-year-old man from Anna Nagar in Ukkadam were searched for over three hours by NIA teams from Kochi.Sources in the agency said that the searches were conducted as part of an investigation into an alleged conspiracy to eliminate Hindu Makkal Katchi leader Arjun Sampath and Sakthi Sena leader Anbu Mari in September 2018. The Coimbatore police had earlier arrested S. Ismail, 25, from Tindivanam; S. Salavudheen, 25, I. Jaffar Sadiq Ali, 29, and S. Shamsudheen, 20, of Chennai; and Ashik, 25, S. Faizal, 26, and Shahul Hameed aka Anwar, 23, from Coimbatore in connection with the plot. The NIA took over the case in October 2018 and charge-sheeted six accused in February 2019.
Investigators claimed that the accused and their associates were radicalised by the violent extremist ideology of IS/Daesh by following the speeches and videos of Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday blasts, on social media. All but one of the suspects were questioned.
On Wednesday, a special court in Kochi granted investigators four days’ custody of Mohammed Azarudeen — a Facebook friend of Zahran Hashim — and Y. Sheik Hidayathullah, members of an alleged IS-inspired Coimbatore module.In Tiruchi, a team led by a DSP searched the residence of R. Shahul Hameed, 28, at Inamkulathur on the outskirts of the city. He works at a milk vending unit. At Nagore in Nagapattinam district, another team questioned a youth, Mohammed Ajmal, at the residence of his relative on Mian Street. Ajmal was questioned for six hours at the Nagapattinam police station and let off. His phone, SIM card and some pamphlets were seized. In Ramanathapuram, the NIA team questioned Sirajudhin at Ilayankudi.
He was summoned to appear before the NIA in Chennai. Elsewhere, a team searched the house of R. Abul Hasan Sathuli, 27, a taxi driver, at Kaayalpattinam in Thoothukudi district. Hasan was away at the time. After interrogating his mother and sister-in-law, the team took a mobile phone and a few documents from the house.The NIA team is learnt to have handed Hasan’s family members the summons requiring him to appear before them for inquiry. With inputs from correspondents in Sivaganga, Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram and Nagapattinam.