The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the car blast in front of the Sangameswarar temple in Coimbatore on October 23, is interrogating the six accused it has in its custody. The NIA Special Court at Poonamallee in Chennai granted 10-day custody of the six accused on January 7, said a source privy to the investigation.
While the suspected mastermind Jameesha Mubin, 29, was killed in the blast, the police initially arrested six persons – Muhammad Azharudheen, 23, Afsar Khan, 28, Muhammad Thalha, 25, Muhammad Riyas, 27, Firoz Ismail, 27, and Muhammad Nawaz Ismail, 25, all hailing from Coimbatore, on various charges.
After taking over the investigation, the NIA arrested Mohammed Thoufeek, 25, of Podanur in Coimbatore, Umar Faaruq, 39, of Coonoor in the Nilgiris, and Ferose Khan, 28, of South Ukkadam in Coimbatore, on December 7.
The investigating team interrogated Azharudheen, Afsar Khan, Ismail, Faaruq and Ferose Khan in custody for nine days from December 21. Before the end of their custody period, the agency arrested two more accused, Sheikh Hidayathullah and Sanofar Ali from Coimbatore, on December 28.
The source said the six accused were being interrogated in Chennai, and they might be brought to Coimbatore, if required, before the custody period ends on January 17. Asked whether the agency was suspecting the involvement of more persons in the car blast, the source replied in the affirmative.
According to the NIA, the accused had conspired for several months before executing the terror attack. The investigators found out that Faaruq led the conspiracy meetings in Hasanur and Kadambur areas of Sathyamangalam forests in Erode in February 2022, which was attended by Mubin, Azharudheen, Hidayatullah and Ali.