Home Ministry shifts Bihar terror module case to NIA

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has handed over the investigation of the Phulwari Sharif terror case of Bihar Police to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The case pertains to the arrest earlier this month of three people, including a retired policeman from Jharkhand, for being part of a “potential terror module” as they were “working towards radicalization” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state government.

“The ministry has issued an order to the NIA to take over the matter as it is a case of terrorism and has inter-state implications,” an MHA official said.

An NIA official said the agency has started the process of taking over the case from Bihar Police.

Earlier this month, the Bihar Police arrested three men allegedly linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) for being part of a “potential terror module” that sought to target those “who make adverse and objectionable” comments against Islam.

During a press conference, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manavjit Singh Dhillon said the accused held meetings and imparted physical training “just as RSS shakhas are held for physical training and imparting training in wielding lathis”. The comment prompted the BJP to seek disciplinary action against the officer.

The accused — Athar Parvez, allegedly a former member of the now banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI); Mohammed Jalaluddin, a retired sub-inspector of the Jharkhand Police; and Arman Malik — were arrested from Phulwari Sharif area in Patna.

According to the police, the arrests were made following intelligence alerts that some people were gathering in Patna to “foment trouble” ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit.

Before the arrests, the police filed an FIR against 26 people, allegedly part of a “potential terror module”, under IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 and 121A (waging war against the state), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration). The trio, all residents of Patna, were arrested the next day.

“They had been holding meetings at mosques and madrasas and working towards what is called radicalization…Besides Bihar, some of the named members are from Karnataka also,” Patna SSP Manavjit Singh Dhillon had told reporters.

Phulwari Sharif Additional SP Manish Kumar told reporters that Jalaluddin was a retired Jharkhand Police sub-inspector. According to police, the accused said they were looking to expand PFI’s base in Patna.

In the FIR, Phulwari Sharif police station in-charge Iqrar Ahmed said the police had learnt that some people had been given training for a week with the possible intention to foment trouble during the PM’s Patna visit. He said they learnt that some people had been living in the area and had been conducting regular meetings – the last one was reportedly on July 7.

According to the FIR, Jalaluddin had rented out a part of his house to Parvez for conducting PFI training. Police said two pamphlets written in English – “India 2047: Towards the governance of Islamic India (internal document, not for circulation)” and “Popular Front of India, February 20, 2021” – were recovered from the premises.

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