The police on Sunday arrested 11 persons, including five members of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), in connection with Molotov cocktail attacks on the properties of BJP and RSS functionaries in different parts of the State since Thursday night.
Even as a fresh attack took place in Salem on Sunday, DGP C. Sylendra Babu warned the troublemakers of action under the National Security Act.
The attacks that began in Coimbatore have spread to some other parts of the State. On Sunday, persons allegedly affiliated to the SDPI hurled a kerosene-filled bottle at the house of RSS Salem Town community organiser V.K. Rajan near Ammapet.
The bottle did not explode. Based on the CCTV footage, the police arrested N. Syed Ali, 42, of Pachapatti near Kitchipalayam, who is the SDPI district president, and K. Khadeer Hussein, 33, of Ponnammapet, the 34th ward president of the SDPI. They were remanded in judicial custody, and the police seized a bike allegedly used in the incident.
Four persons, including an SDPI member, were arrested for the arson at the shop of a BJP youth wing functionary in Erode on the night of September 22.
The arrested were identified as SDPI member Sadam Hussain, 23, his friends A. Ashik, 23, A. Jaffar, 27, and I. Khalil Rahman, 28, all hailing from Karungalpalayam. Inspector General of Police (West Zone) R. Sudhakar said the accused were identified with surveillance camera visuals and other evidence, including two motorcycles that they had used. They threw packets filled with fuel at the furniture shop run by V. Dakshinamoorthy. He said nine similar attacks were reported in the West Zone since September 22: Mettupalayam (2), Pollachi (5), Puliyampatti (1) and Erode taluk (1). Investigations into the attacks in Pollachi and Mettupalayam were in the final stages, he said.
In Madurai, two persons, identified as Hussain of Sammattipuram and Samsudeen of Nelpettai, were arrested in connection with a petrol bomb thrown at the house of M.H. Krishnan, an RSS functionary at Anupanadi, on Saturday. Commissioner of Police T. Senthil Kumar said inquiries revealed that two more persons were involved in the crime.
After a review meeting with all Commissioners/Superintendents of Police, Mr. Sylendra Babu called for protecting soft targets, places of worship and sensitive locations. Sending reinforcements to places with a history of communal violence, he warned that perpetrators of violence would be detained under the NSA. He cautioned that similar attacks could happen at other places and called for strengthening security.
The police should seize CCTV footage at the scene of crime and interrogate the suspects, he said. While deploying additional reinforcements in trouble-prone areas, police and Revenue Department officials should conduct meetings with peace committees of different groups, he said. He called for intensifying night patrol and vehicle-checks. Some suspects were arrested and their motorcycles were seized and the police were interrogating 250 suspects, the DGP said.
In Salem, the police said the accused persons hurled the bottle around 1.45 a.m. at the house of Mr. Rajan, the RSS functionary. Deputy Commissioner (North) M. Madasamy inspected the scene of crime. The police registered a case under Sections 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.), and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences) of the IPC.As a preventive measure, the Salem city police took five persons into custody. They are S. Sherif Basha, 40, of Mohammed Pura, M. Mohammed Ismail, 30, of Ponnammapet, and S. Khaja Hussein, 37, of Kitchipalayam (all belonging to the SDPI), and B. Mohammed Rafi, 42, of Jamiya Masjid, and H. Mohammed Harris, 27, of Kitchipalayam (both belonging to the Popular Front of India).
Following the arrest, a road roko was staged at Fort and Kitchipalayam. The police detained 99 persons, including 31st ward IUML councillor Syed Mosa and 44th ward VCK councillor Imayavarman, and lodged them at marriage halls.
In Coimbatore, the police arrested SDPI members S. Jesuraj, 35, of Arivoli Nagar, and A. Iliyas, 38, of Thiruvalluvar Nagar, for the attacks on a house and a car of BJP and Hindu Munnani functionaries on Friday. City Police Commissioner V. Balakrishnan said Jesuraj was arrested on the charge of setting ablaze a car belonging to Hindu Munnani functionary Raghu at Kuniyamuthur. Iliyas was arrested for the Molotov cocktail attack on the house of BJP functionary Bharat, also at Kuniyamuthur. He added that the police were making progress in connection with the investigation into four other attacks reported in the city, including the one on the BJP office. In Dindigul, a suspect, Sikkander, was arrested in connection with the setting ablaze of vehicles at a godown belonging to a BJP functionary on Saturday. Inspector-General of Police (South Zone) Asra Garg said the affiliation of the accused to any organisation or party was being ascertained.
The incidents of motorcycle-borne suspects throwing Molotov cocktails on select targets and unruly crowds stoning buses in different parts of the State started soon after the National Investigation Agency, along with the Enforcement Directorate and the police, conducted nationwide raids on the premises of PFI functionaries on Thursday last. The operation followed specific intelligence inputs and five cases registered by the NIA, “based on evidence”, that PFI leaders and workers were funding terrorism and terrorist activities, organising training in the use of arms and radicalising people to join banned organisations, the investigating agency said in a release.
Investigators had searched the houses and offices of top PFI leaders at 93 locations in 15 States and arrested 45 suspects, including 19 were from Kerala and 11 from Tamil Nadu.