Kerala

Car theft probe leads to ‘terror link’

Coimbatore man who bought vehicles is a member of banned terror group

A couple of days ago, the Kottayam West police busted a car theft racket and arrested two youths. The accused, Illyas (37), a native of Vadanappally in Thrissur, and K.A. Nishad (37) from Aluva, used to hire luxury cars using fake identity documents and sell them.

“They would approach vehicle owners through online portals and hire vehicles giving forged documents. We zeroed in on them while probing a case in connection with the theft of a luxury car from Kottayam,” said a police officer.

On identifying the accused, the police laid a trap giving an online advertisement seeking to rent out luxury cars in Pathanamthitta. “One of the accused approached us in the guise of hiring a luxury car, who was later taken into custody from Thiruvalla. Based on his statement, the second accused too was picked up,” the officer said.

Crime network

An investigation, however, blew the lid off a crime network supposedly having links with radical organisations. “All the cars they had taken possession of defrauding vehicle owners were sold to Muhammad Rafique, aka Bhai Rafique, a native of Coimbatore. An investigation showed that this man had been the member of a banned terror organisation and was convicted in the Coimbatore bomb blasts case. A search is on to trace Rafique and the cars he had purchased from the accused,” a top officer said.

The accused have confessed to have supplied at least 11 cars and a two-wheeler to Rafique. There is, however, no clarity as to the purpose for which he purchased the car.

The police, meanwhile, are exploring options of charging the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“An application seeking their custody has been filed and a decision with regard to imposing the UAPA will be made after an interrogation to establish their links with the banned outfit,” said R.Sreekumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kottayam. Besides the police, Central agencies too have launched a probe in the case and are expected to interrogate the accused soon.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 1:32:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/car-theft-probe-leads-to-terror-link/article30786039.ece

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