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Sri Lanka's top police officer to lead team probing 4 Lankan nationals arrested in India

A senior Deputy Inspector General will head a team appointed to investigate four of its citizens arrested in Gujarat. They were arrested at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel airport in Ahmedabad after they travelled from Colombo via Chennai.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Colombo Published on: May 22, 2024 19:01 IST
Sri Lankan nationals arrested in India
Image Source : IMAGE SOURCE : X/ HARSH SANGHAVI Sri Lankan nationals arrested in India

Sri Lanka police on Wednesday said a senior Deputy Inspector General will head a team appointed to investigate four of its citizens arrested in Gujarat when on an alleged mission to carry out terror activities in India at the behest of the banned Islamic State.

Acting on a tip-off, the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Sunday apprehended four Sri Lankan nationals at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel airport in Ahmedabad after they travelled from Colombo via Chennai.

The men travelled to India to carry out terror activities at the behest of the banned terror outfit Islamic State (IS) and are members of IS radicalised by a leader from Sri Lanka who is living in Pakistan, according to the Indian police. “A senior Deputy Inspector General-headed police team has been appointed by the Inspector General Police (IGP) Deshabandu Tennakoon,” police Spokesman and Senior Superintendent Nihal Thalduwa told PTI.

He said the police chief’s action followed official intimation of the Lankan citizens' arrests by the Indian authorities.

The appointed DIG has the crime investigation division and the terrorism investigation division of the police under his command, Thalduwa said, adding that they would coordinate with the intelligence agencies in the probe. On Tuesday, Public Security Minister Tiran Alles and IGP Tennakoon said they were taking these reports seriously and closely monitoring the developments.

Alles and Tennakoon said they would initiate discussions with Indian authorities to gather detailed information about the suspects and their activities, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported. Citing sources, it said that Sri Lankan authorities will "immediately investigate" to take further action once the information is obtained.

The accused, Mohammad Nusrat (35), Mohammad Faarukh (35), Mohammad Nafran (27) and Mohammad Rasdeen (43), informed investigators that they were earlier associated with the banned Sri Lankan radical militant outfit, National Thowheeth Jamath (NJT), and joined IS after getting in touch with Pakistani handler Abu Bakr Al Bagdadi, said Gujarat Director General of Police Vikas Sahay. Of the four arrested, Nafran has been identified as the son of notorious underworld criminal Niyas Naufer, aka 'Potta Naufer', who was sentenced to death for the killing of a High Court judge, reported Sri Lankan news portal News First.

Investigations have also revealed that Nafran dropped out of school and started a business by travelling to India, purchasing clothing material, and returning to Sri Lanka to sell it. He was arrested by Sri Lanka Police in 2017 for a charge filed under the National Gem And Jewellery Authority Act.

Detectives have also uncovered that he frequented India and Dubai for business, the report said. The ATS team recovered three Pakistan-made pistols and 20 cartridges lying abandoned at a location in the city's Nana Chiloda area based on geo-coordinates and photographs found on the mobile phone seized from the accused, Sahay said, adding that the men were allegedly directed by their Pakistani handler to collect these.

"They got in touch with Abu (the IS leader in Pakistan) in February this year and remained in contact with him through social media and were completely radicalised by the ideology," he said.

Their leader ordered them to carry out terrorist activities in India, to which they agreed, and even showed readiness to carry out suicide bombings, Sahay said. The men were paid Rs 4 lakh in Sri Lankan currency to carry out the activities, he said.

The mobile phones recovered from the accused had photographs and documents showing their association with IS, and an IS flag was also recovered from their bag, and two such flags were recovered from the abandoned parcel containing weapons, the official said. The men were instructed to leave these flags at the site of their terror activities, he said.

Interrogations revealed that Abu had informed the accused about the weapons hidden at the given location in Ahmedabad for their use, he said. The pistols carried star marks, and cartridges were prima facie found to be made in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan, he said.

One of the four arrested terrorists, Mohammad Nusrat, also holds a valid visa for Pakistan. The men were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Indian Penal Code, and Arms Act, and further investigation was underway, Sahay said.

(With inuts from agency)

Also Read: Pakistan-based handler was to assign location, time of attack: Arrested IS terrorists tell Gujarat ATS | READ

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