The National Investigating Agency is all set to register its first case related to the Sri Lanka blasts, with the centre on Thursday notifying the NIA Amendment Bill that cleared parliament last week.
With the new amendments, the probe agency would now have the power to probe scheduled offences such as human trafficking, circulation of fake currency, manufacture and sale of prohibited arms and cyber terrorism.
The NIA has now also got jurisdiction over scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and the domestic laws of other countries. A special court in New Delhi will preside over such cases.
The first case to be investigated offshore is going to be April's Sri Lanka blasts, in which over 250 died. "We have been investigating cases relating to Sri Lanka blast vis-a-vis its Indian connection earlier, but we could not file a case directly relating to the blast. With this notification, we can register a case and probe the Sri Lanka blasts connections in India," a senior NIA official told NDTV.
According to the official, as far as investigations in Sri Lanka are concerned, despite the notification to the new amendment, they would have to depend on Lankan agencies for taking investigations further offshore. "But we can kick start investigations here in India in connection to Zahran Hashim," he explained.
Zahran Hashim, the main accused in the Sri Lanka blast case, had visited India and gotten in touch with many young people in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
"We will begin investigations regarding it in India and then take the case forward," the official said.
The probe agency has already arrested a 29-year-old man, Riyas, from Kerala for links with Zahran Hashim.
"Riyas was inspired by Zahran and used to follow his speeches. He wanted to conduct blasts of similar nature in Kerala too," revealed a senior NIA officer.
The agency says Riyas, during interrogation, has admitted that he had been in contact with missing accused Abdul Rashid Abdulla for a long time, and had been following his audio clips, including the one which he had circulated on the social media platforms instigating others to carry out terror attacks in India.
Another case which might have a direct bearing in the Sri Lanka blast probe relates to the arrest of 16 men in Tamil Nadu earlier this month for allegedly attempting to set up a terror outfit by the name 'Asnarulla'. These men are being questioned for their links with terror group ISIS.
According to the NIA, the accused persons and their associates had collected funds and made preparations to carry out terror attacks in India, with the intention of establishing ISIS rule in the country.
The accused have been actively recruiting individuals to strike terror in India and have also been distributing videos and other jihadi propaganda material, pressing their supporters to conduct terrorist attacks through various methods including the use of explosives, poison, knives and vehicles, the NIA said.
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