The Central government on Thursday ordered a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the October 23 Coimbatore LPG cylinder explosion in a car, considering the possibility of cross-state developments and the role of international elements in the investigation.
The Counter-Terrorism and Counter Radicalization (CTCR) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued the order a day after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin recommended an NIA probe in the case. A top government official said that the “NIA will take over the case very soon”.
Stalin, in a recommendation letter, to the MHA had requested on Wednesday to transfer the investigation of the case related to the car cylinder explosion in the Ukkadam area in Coimbatore to the NIA and directed police to ensure security in Coimbatore. Stalin’s recommendation followed a detailed review meeting held on Wednesday at the Head Office under the leadership of the Chief Minister regarding the ongoing investigation of the case.
Tamil Nadu Police so far has arrested six people in connection with the case, and have invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Those arrested are learnt to be associates of Jameesha Mubin, who was charred to death in suspicious circumstances after an LPG cylinder inside a Maruti 800 he was driving exploded near a temple in Coimbatore around 4 am on October 23.
According to police, Mubin, 25, an engineering graduate, has been previously questioned by the NIA in 2019 for alleged terror links. His name is mentioned as the primary accused in the case. Five people arrested on Monday night were Mohammad Thalka, 25, Mohammad Asarudheen, 25, Muhammad Riyaz, 27, Feroz Ismail, 27, and Mohammad Navaz Ismail, 27.
However, the sixth person, identified as Afsar Khan, a relative of the deceased, was arrested earlier on Thursday. Khan is the cousin of the deceased. He was picked two days before by the special investigation team. On Wednesday noon, Police officials also conducted searches on Khan’s residence and took his laptop.
Since the explosion occurred in Ukkadam, a communally sensitive area, the state’s top police officers, including Director General of Police (DGP) Sylendra Babu and Additional DGP (law and order) Thamarai Kannan, rushed to the spot.
The DGP on Sunday said the police found materials used to make explosives in Mubin’s house in Ukkadam. They seized 75 kgs of potassium nitrate, charcoal, aluminium powder and sulphur which can be used to make explosives.