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TN Recommends NIA Probe Into Coimbatore Car Blast; Suspects International Links

The government stated the NIA had been called in considering the possibilities of links transcending state borders.

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The Tamil Nadu government has decided to request the Centre to transfer the investigation into the Coimbatore car blast case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA)

Five men have been arrested so far for their alleged role in the car explosion, in which a person was charred to death, outside a temple in Coimbatore on Sunday, 23 October.

Reports said that the decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister MK Stalin earlier in the day. 

A press release from the state government stated that the NIA probe has been recommended considering the possibilities of alleged terror links transcending state borders and the likelihood of international connections. A special police force will also be constituted to avoid such incidents in the future and surveillance will be increased, the note read.

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What Happened in Coimbatore?

Jameza Mubin, 25, an engineering graduate from Ukkadam, was driving a hatchback car with two LPG cylinders in the back, in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore on Sunday. He was charred to death after one of the gas cylinders exploded inside his car near Kottai Eswaran temple.

A resident alerted the Fire and Rescue Services who reached the site and doused the flames. The driver's remains were recovered from the site and were shifted to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, as per media reports.

The other 35 kg commercial cylinder was reportedly found intact at the blast site.

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Potential ISIS Links?

The case took a sensational turn after the police uncovered a terror plot during the probe into the man’s death.

CCTV footage from 22 October at around 11.30 pm showed four men carry heavy objects wrapped in a white cloth from the driver's house to the street nearby. 

On Monday night, Mohammad Thalka (25), Mohammad Asarudheen (25), Muhammad Riyaz (27), Feroz Ismail (27) and Mohammad Navaz Ismail (27) were arrested.

A search of the deceased person's house led to the recovery of "low-intensive explosive material," including potassium nitrate, aluminum powder, charcoal, and sulphur - used for making country bombs.

Vehicle nails, marbles, and other such material too were found in the car that exploded. 

Those seemed to be meant for "future plans," said Tamil Nadu DGP C Sylendra Babu on Sunday. Babu told media persons that it is unclear if the blast was a planned attack that went haywire. Six police teams were formed to investigate the case.

The Coimbatore Police on 25 October, invoked sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), following the recovery of over 75 kg of explosive raw materials from the residence of the deceased person who died in the blast. 

Mubin had reportedly been questioned by the NIA in 2019 over alleged links to ISIS. He was interrogated in a case regarding alleged links with a man in Kerala who was the suspected ringleader of the Colombo Easter Bomb Blasts that killed at least 250 people.
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'Intelligence Failure,' Slam Opposition Parties

Tamil Nadu Leader of the Opposition, Edappadi K Palaniswami and ousted AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam, questioned Chief Minister MK Stalin over the incident.

“I insist on an independent investigation without any political pressure to find out whether this was an accidental blast due to the explosion of a gas cylinder or whether it was a case of sabotage. If so, [we need to find out] whether there are any anti-social elements behind this,” Palaniswami said in a statement on Monday, 24 October.

Panneerselvam contended that the explosion was the latest in the "culture of violence" spreading in the state.

"About eight to 10 murders have become a casual affair these days and 'petrol bombs' (aka Molotov Cocktails) were widely prevalent in Tamil Nadu recently," he claimed.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit out at the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), alleging that the incident exposed "intelligence failure."

"How long will it take for the Chief Minister to accept the Intelligence has failed...bring professionals back to the force...the Home department had solid professionals, with those good in counter-terrorism, prior to 2021," state BJP President K Annamalai said.

DMK minister V Senthil Balaji accused the Opposition party leaders of “creating unrest” in Tamil Nadu. He stated that the wish of “foxes disguised as sheep's skin won’t be satisfied.”  He also warned that anyone who attempts to defame the state government institutions will face severe legal actions.

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