The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on May 11 conducted searches in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh in this year’s April 2 Elathur train arson attack case.
The agency sleuths carried out the searches since this morning, and the raids are still underway at the locations of suspects. The NIA carried out searches at the hideouts of suspects in the case, which was taken over by the anti-terror agency almost a month ago, and it started its probe charging the “highly radicalised” arrested accused, Shahrukh Saifi .
The agency took over the case from Kerala Police in mid-April following an order issued by the Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalization (CTCR) division under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
As it was a clear case of terror involving many states, the NIA invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act based on doubts that the accused was sent to the State by his handlers and he got enough local help.
The NIA’s action comes days after the accused, identified as one Shahrukh Saifi , who also suffered burn injuries during the terror act, was slapped with murder charges under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code by a district session court in Kozhikode. He was charged with murder in a case filed by the railway police.
As per officials, there was a preplanned conspiracy behind the crime and it was not a single-man mission as confessed by the accused.
Shahrukh Saifi, 27, a native of Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police and Central Intelligence after the train arson attack case. He had also suffered injuries in the attack.
At the time of interrogation by a special investigation team (SIT) Shahrukh Saifi provided contradictory statements in which initially, he had said he was being used by someone and later retracted saying, everything was planned and executed by him only.
The NIA is investigating the larger conspiracy as part of which Shahrukh Saifi, assessed by Kerala police to be “highly radicalised” and influenced by inflammatory speeches of Islamic evangelist Zakir Naik, planned and executed the act of arson.
The NIA is also looking at possible handlers and aides that may have been part of this conspiracy, and it is also examining the inter-State linkages, considering that Shahrukh Saifi is a resident of Shaheen Bagh in Delhi and was arrested from Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
The NIA has been involved in the train arson case right from the start and engaged in an investigation with officers from its Kochi branch. The agency officers also reached the incident site soon after the attack to examine the cause of the fire and collect samples for forensic analysis.
On April 2, Shahrukh Saifi had attempted to set some passengers on fire on board the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express at Elathur in Kozhikode after spraying them with an inflammable liquid. Three passengers lost their lives while trying to jump out of the train to escape the fire. Saifi was later arrested from Ratnagiri.