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Coimbatore car blast | Terror probe, politics and more

The National Investigation Agency is probing the cylinder blast that rocked Coimbatore on October 23, 2022

November 01, 2022 01:05 am | Updated February 07, 2023 04:28 pm IST

The mangled remains of a car that was gutted in an explosion triggered by a LPG cylinder near Kottai Eswaran Kovil Street in Coimbatore city on October 23, 2022. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The mangled remains of a car that was gutted in an explosion triggered by a LPG cylinder near Kottai Eswaran Kovil Street in Coimbatore city on October 23, 2022. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A day before Deepavali, the residents of Kottaimedu in Coimbatore city woke up to a car explosion that occurred in front of Sangameswarar Temple at dawn on October 23, 2022.

The blast is said to have occurred at 4.03 a.m., and the Coimbatore South fire station received an emergency call at 4.06 a.m. A fire tender reached the temple at 4.08 a.m. and put out the flames by 4.20 a.m. 

Police security was stepped up and the site was cordoned off before 5 a.m. In a few hours, the Director General of Police C. Sylendra Babu rushed to the spot and camped in the city for two days, indicating the incident was assuming significance as the investigation progressed. Six special teams were formed.

By evening, the victim of the car explosion that was triggered by one of the two LPG cylinders kept inside the vehicle was identified as 29-year-old Jameesha Mubin.

During a search at Mubin’s residence, a rented house on the second floor of a building on H.M.P.R. Street, the investigators unearthed over 75 kg of potassium nitrate, aluminium powder, sulphur and charcoal.

Police swung into action after explosion of a LPG cylinder in a car at Coimbatore
| Video Credit: M. Periasamy

The next day, on October 24, five accomplices of Mubin, identified as Muhammad Thalha, Muhammad Azharudheen, Muhammad Riyas, Firoz Ismail, and Muhammad Nawaz Ismail were arrested following analysis of CCTV footage.

The visuals showed Mubin and the five men taking out a heavy object wrapped in white sack from Mubin’s residence at H.M.P.R. Street in Kottaimedu, less than five hours before the blast (around 11.30 p.m. on October 22).

Suspecting the blast as an act of terror, provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) were invoked against them on October 25.

While the Opposition parties including the AIADMK and BJP termed the blast as a failure of the State intelligence, the allies of the ruling DMK including the Left parties blamed it on the incapacity of the Central intelligence agencies.

Two days later, on October 27, the sixth suspect identified as Afsar Khan was also arrested, following a search at his residence. Khan is accused of procuring raw materials used for the explosion through e-commerce websites.

Suspects arrested by police
1. Muhammad Thalha (25) of Ukkadam in Coimbatore
2. Muhammad Azharudheen (23) of Ukkadam in Coimbatore
3. Muhammad Riyas (27) of G.M. Nagar in Coimbatore
4. Firoz Ismail (27) of G.M. Nagar in Coimbatore
5. Muhammad Nawaz Ismail (27) of G.M. Nagar in Coimbatore
6. Afsar Khan (28) of Vincent Road in Coimbatore
Suspects arrested by NIA
7. Mohammed Thoufeek (25) of Podanur in Coimbatore
8. Umar Faaruq alias K. Srinivasan (39) of Coonoor in the Nilgiris
9. Ferose Khan (28) of South Ukkadam in Coimbatore
10. Sheikh Hidayathullah of Al-Amin Colony in Coimbatore
11. Sanofar Ali of Vincent Road in Coimbatore

The same day, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the investigation in the Coimbatore car blast case on October 27, a day after the State recommended it.

At this juncture, BJP’s national executive committee member and former Coimbatore MP C.P. Radhakrishnan and Coimbatore South MLA Vanathi Srinivasan who addressed journalists on October 26, announced a one-day bandh in Coimbatore city on October 31, to condemn the DMK-led State government for “negligently handling the investigation” of the car blast.

However, two days later, their party’s state president K. Annamalai, while responding to a PIL against the bandh call, on Coimbatore 28, did a U-turn by telling the Madras High Court that he did not give any call for a bandh in Coimbatore.

Following suit, Balaji Uthamaramasamy, Urban District Unit President of the BJP, in a statement issued on October 29, announced that the proposed bandh was temporarily withdrawn.

A seven-member team of NIA officials set up a temporary office in Coimbatore on October 29 and conducted its first spot inquiry at the blast site the next day.

Meanwhile, BJP president Annamalai visited the Sangameswarar Temple on October 31 and offered thanksgiving prayers to the deity for saving the city from a possible terror attack.

Watch | TN BJP president on police response to Coimbatore car blast
| Video Credit: M. Periasamy

This is a compilation of The Hindu’s coverage of the Coimbatore car blast

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