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Why the Jama Masjid firing case went from Delhi police to NIA

March 25, 2011 18:00 IST
On Friday, the investigations in the Jama Masjid firing case were handed over to the National Investigation Agency after the Delhi police could not get a breakthrough.'s Vicky Nanjappa analyses why.

The Jama Masjid firing, which injured two Taiwanese nationals just days before the Commonwealth Games in September last year came as a wake-up call for security agencies who thought that the Indian Mujahideen were a thing of the past. Though the Delhi police maintained that the IM were behind the blast from day one, there has been no breakthrough in the case six months on.     

On Friday, it was decided that the probe into this case would be handed over to the National Investigation Agency. Sources say the NIA has been roped in since the Delhi police faced a major jurisdictional issue while handling the case.

Though the Jama Masjid firing was on a smaller scale as compared to most other attacks by the IM, it's an important case.  Following a series of attacks by the IM, there was a major crackdown and the operations of this group had come to a standstill. The Jama Masjid case was more of a trial run for the IM which is now regrouping, and through this attack they were only testing the waters, say sources. The Varanasi blasts that followed in December were a proof of this.

Today, investigating agencies believe that the two attacks are interlinked and hence it is important that their probe should go hand in hand.   

The Delhi police were shooting in the dark as far as the Jama Masjid case is concerned, since it was difficult for them to step out of their jurisdiction and carry out investigations in other states. However, the NIA does not face this problem because the NIA Act permits them to work in any state without a nod from the government.          

Indian Intelligence agencies say the Jama Masjid attack was carried out by a splinter group of the IM operating between the old city of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Some of the members such as Asadullah Akthar, who control the operations of the IM in India, have now moved out of the country. He was last known to be in Sharjah. These are the basic problems the Delhi police were grappling with and hence it was necessary that a national agency looked into the probe.    

"The Jama Masjid case cannot be taken lightly. There was sophisticated ammunition used in the attack and it is crucial to understand where they have procured been procured from," said sources from the Intelligence Bureau.

An officer, in the NIA when asked about the case being handed over to them, refused to comment stating that there was no official communication on the status of the case.

The probe in the Jama Masjid firing incident has reached a dead end with the Delhi police interrogating nearly 100 people in connection with the case. However, the fact that there was no breakthrough in the case is an indication in itself that the attackers were not from Delhi, say insiders.   

In addition to this, the police also found clues that the email claiming responsibility for the attacks came for an address created in California following which the mails were sent from India. All this would require a large amount of coordination and only the NIA can take the case forward, say sources.

Moreover, the NIA would also be probing the re-grouping of the IM and its activities, which are in full swing in south India, especially in Kerala.   

The Jama Masjid case is just a precursor to the resurfacing of the terror group and hence the matter cannot be taken lightly, sources pointed out.
Vicky Nanjappa