The Union Home Ministry has decided to set up a branch office of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Kerala in the wake of several terror-related cases having links to the State.
The new office, at the Superintendent of Police (SP) level, will be located in Kochi. The premier investigation agency has branch offices now in Hyderabad and Guwahati. Another office will come up in Lucknow, also at the SP level. Besides, a bigger unit headed by a Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of Police will come up in Mumbai soon, highly-placed sources told The Hindu here on Tuesday.
The Hyderabad office now has jurisdiction over all southern States including Kerala, and the Guwahati office over all the seven north-eastern States. The Hyderabad office is being headed by a DIG and the Guwahati office, an SP.
Sources say that a fully operational office is necessary in Kerala for better coordination of officers instead of shuttling between Hyderabad and the State, where a makeshift office now functions. The setting up of the new offices forms part of the gradual expansion of the NIA in the country.
The NIA's organisational framework includes its Director-General and Special Director-General at the top level with two Inspector-Generals of Police (IG) for Administration and Training, and Investigation. There are four DIGs under the IG (Investigation).
Sources say that seven out of the 30 cases being investigated by the NIA are in the State. Of these, 28 are handled by the headquarters in New Delhi and the remaining two in Guwahati. T.K. Rajmohan, SP, is in charge of the cases in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry.
Earlier this year, the NIA had taken over the case of the attack on T.J. Joseph, teacher at Newman College, Thodupuzha. Recently, the NIA had issued a lookout notice and sought the help of the Interpol as some of the accused are at large in Gulf countries.
Investigators suspect a Kerala connection to the bomb blasts outside the Delhi High Court on September 7 this year. They have verified the statements of two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives, Thadiyantavide Nazir and Sarfaraz Nawaz, lodged in the Bangalore Central Prison, in this connection.
Officers have confirmed that a transnational network, Tablighi Jamaat, has been involved in the recruitment of young people for creating disturbances and for operating sleeper cells in various parts of the country. One of the cases being investigated by the NIA in the State is that of LeT operative Abdul Jaleel who has recruited young people for Jihad training in Pakistan.
Another significant case that has been transferred to the NIA last year was the hijacking and gutting of a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus at Kalamassery in 2005 for the release of an accused then lodged in the Coimbatore Central Prison. A three-day training camp organised by the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) at Wagamon in 2008 and an assembly of SIMI at Binanipuram to wage war against the country are others.
The NIA special court in Kochi had given the verdict in the twin-blast cases that rocked Kozhikode city on March 3, 2006.