Mangaluru blast: Kochi to host urgent meeting of investigative agencies

Investigating officers probing the spot of the Mangaluru blast. Screengrab: Manorama News

Kochi/Kasaragod: A joint emergency meeting of top officials of central and state security agencies will be held in Kochi on Tuesday.

Top officials of RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) will also take part in the meeting to be held at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Bureau, sources said.

The meeting has been called to assess security and discuss precautions in the wake of blasts in Coimbatore and Mangaluru.

After Coimbatore, the explosion in Mangaluru has raised concerns among security agencies. An investigation into the accused who carried out the blast in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru revealed that he had visited Kerala several times in the last three months.

The agencies have also taken his terrorist links seriously. The necessary precautions in this situation will be discussed in the meeting.

The meeting would also assess the situation in the state after the banning of the Popular Front of India (PFI), sources said.

Last Saturday, a bomb exploded in a moving autorickshaw. The accused in the blast is Mohammed Shariq, hailing from Thirthahalli in Shivamogga district. He was travelling in an autorickshaw with a pressure cooker fitted with a detonator, wires and batteries, when it exploded at Kankanadi, on the outskirts of Mangaluru.

'Investigation on'

Addressing the media on Monday, Mangaluru Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Alok Kumar said Shariq had stopovers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu before coming to Mangaluru, possibly on a recce. He said the police are trying to find out the 24-year-old's links with people outside Karnataka.

Shariq, who suffered burn injuries, is currently being treated in a city hospital and is unable to speak. "...Our priority is to see that he survives, we have to take him to a stage where we can question him," Kumar said.

Shariq holding a pressure cooker, which seems to be a manufactured bomb; Shariq in the hospital: Photo: Special Arrangement

Police found materials that go into making a bomb from the rented house in Mysuru of Mangaluru autorickshaw blast accused who was "influenced and inspired" by a global terrorist organisation, Kumar said.

"His handler was Abdul Mateen Taha from Suddaguntepalya (in Bengaluru) on whom the National Investigation Agency has announced a reward of Rs 3 lakh," the ADGP said.

Kumar said NIA had raided Mateen's house at Thirthalli in 2020. He is also wanted in the al-hind ISIS Bengaluru module case, Kumar said.

Mateen, along with Khwaja and Mohammed Pasha from Tamil Nadu, was booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act at Suddaguntepalya in Bengaluru in 2020.

Apart from Mateen, Arafat Ali from Thirthahalli was also like Shariq's handler, Kumar added.

Shariq is an accused in three cases: two in Mangaluru city and one in Shivamogga police station.

Shariq was arrested by Mangaluru police in 2020 for writing a graffito on the wall that read “Do not force us to invite Lashkar-e-Toiba and Taliban to deal with Sanghis and Manuvadis. #LashkarZindabad”. However, the court granted him bail in the case.

Shariq was arrested by Mangaluru police in 2020 for the graffito. However, he secured bail from the court. Photo: Special Arrangement

Shariq was "influenced and inspired" by a (terrorist) organisation with a global presence, Kumar said.

He said police have identified the mother and sister of the accused. They have also picked up two people from Mysuru and one from Mangaluru for questioning.

"We found matchbox, sulphur, phosphorus, batteries, circuit and nut and bolts from the (Shariq's rented) house (in Mysuru). Mohan Kumar, the owner of the house, was not aware of these activities," Kumar said.

Search operations were carried out in seven locations including Mangaluru, Shivamogga, Mysuru and Thirthahalli, the ADGP said.

"We are trying to find out those who harboured him," he added.
Shariq is being booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, police sources said.

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