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Why NIA will probe all right-wing terror cases

By Vicky Nanjappa
March 21, 2011 20:23 IST
After strong links were established between the Mecca Masjid, Ajmer, Malegaon blasts and four other terror-related cases, a decision has been taken that all these incidents will now be probed by a single body -- the National Investigating Agency.

The NIA will now look into the investigation of five cases, which include the Malegaon blasts of 2006 and the Mecca Masjid blasts case currently under the Central Bureau of Investigation, 2008 Malegaon blasts which were till now probed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, Ajmer blasts case handled by the Rajasthan ATS, the Sunil Joshi murder case, which was till now being investigated by the Madhya Pradesh police. Along with this the NIA will also continue its probe in the Samjautha Express blasts and the Modasa blast.

Sources say that it was necessary to bring all these cases under the aegis of one agency after ongoing investigations and confessions of suspects revealed that these cases were interlinked. Although the CBI, which is also a central agency, could have taken up these cases, it was handed over to the NIA since this agency was specially formed and the NIA Act 2008 was introduced only to probe cases specific to terrorism.

A source added that the decision to hand over the cases to the NIA came following confession of Swami Aseemanand, a key accused in the 2007 Samjautha blast case. During the probe of the Samjautha case, it came to the fore that the same men played a role in all the six other cases.

The missing links in the case are Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, reportedly named by Aseemanand, and the NIA has now launched a massive hunt for the duo. Although the NIA had managed to gather a lot of information regarding the Samjautha blasts case, it was becoming tough to probe the case further since there were six other cases, which were interlinked.

The NIA was finding it difficult to go ahead with the investigation as they heavily depended on other agencies to give them required
information and this in turn would slow down the probe.   

Sources say that Kalsangra and Dange were the two operatives that played a major role in the seven blasts. Their whereabouts can be traced from the information given by Aseemanand, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, the main accused the Malegaon blast case.

There is a constant need to keep questioning these accused and if the probe is under the NIA then it is easy to interact with them instead of approaching them via other probing agencies, say sources. For the NIA however the crucial case, which needs to be solved, is the murder of Sunil Joshi. They can pick up a lot of leads from this case, which will help them work on the blasts cases. Moreover, there have been a lot of complaints that the Madhya Pradesh police is not doing enough as far as the Sunil Joshi murder is concerned.     

Another aspect that will help during investigations is the fact that the NIA can draw up its own data regarding terror modules
and cells used by the operatives to carry out the blasts. From current investigations it is quite clear that terror modules were established in Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra to carry out the blasts and the terror operatives, who executed the attacks, juggled the modules. Hence, if the probe is under one agency, it will make the job easier.   

Unlike a CBI probe there is no need for an approval from the state government for an NIA probe. The NIA Act 2008 makes it clear that a permission from the state government is not needed in order to hand over a probe to the NIA. However, the states are kept in the loop so that the police cooperate in the investigations.   

While most of the states have agreed for an NIA probe, the Union government may need to convince the Madhya Pradesh government to hand over the Joshi murder case to the NIA since it does not exactly fall under the purview of a case of terrorism per se.
Vicky Nanjappa