NIA conducts searches in Madurai over ‘incriminating’ Facebook post

A view of National Investigation Agency (NIA), in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

A Hindu man from Madurai who converted to Islam in 2013 is at the centre of an investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for posting an “incriminating post” on Facebook in December last.

On Sunday, the agency conducted searches at four locations in Madurai where it seized 16 digital devices and pamphlets.

The accused, identified as Mohammad Iqbal alias Senthil Kumar, was arrested on December 2, 2020 by the Tamil Nadu Police. He is presently in prison. The NIA re-registered the case in April 2021.

An NIA spokesperson said Iqbal posted messages on Facebook page “Thoonga Vizhigal Rendu is in Kazimar Street” for denigrating a particular community. “The posts were designed to incite communal disharmony among different religious groups, in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order,” the spokesperson said.

The Facebook page in Tamil- “Thoonga Vizigal Rendu is in Kazimar Street” loosely translates to two eyes that never slept. Kazimar Street is a place in Madurai where Iqbal resided.

Iqbal who has studied till Class X, used to run a mobile phone repair shop before he was arrested.

NIA said that Iqbaal was advocating the ideology of Islamic State and Hizb- Ut- Tahrir (HuT), a fundamentalist organisation.

HuT, an Islamic organisation that has been banned by many Muslim countries including Bangladesh is often at odds with the Islamic State (IS). While IS and its affiliate groups are declared an unlawful organisation in India, no such declaration has been made for HuT by India yet. The outfit’s website is accessible in India.

A First Information Report filed by the agency said the “Facebook page denigrates Hindus, instigates Muslims to act against Hindus and creates communal disharmony among different religions in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.”

It added that an examination of the mobile phone of the accused revealed that “he was in contact with several prohibited international terrorist groups and network of ISIS, Hizb-ut-Tahrir through social media.”

The accused was arrested under Section 13 (1) B of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) punishable by up to seven years on conviction to anyone who “advocates, abets, advises or incites the commission of, any unlawful activity.” Other sections of the Indian Penal Code such as 153 A IPC (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) have also been invoked.

NIA said on Sunday that the searches were conducted at Kazimar Street, K. Pudur, Pethaniyapuram and Mehaboob Palayam in Madurai. “During the search, sixteen (16) digital devices including laptop, hard disks, mobile phones, memory cards, SIMs, pen drive and many incriminating books / pamphlets / documents have been recovered,” the agency said.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 3:03:38 PM |

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