New Delhi/Nagpur: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday detained 14 suspected Islamic State sympathisers including six in Karnataka as part of a multi-location crackdown amidst heightened security measures ahead of the Republic Day celebrations.
The crackdown comes in the wake of a threat letter to the French consulate in Bengaluru, warning against President Francois Hollande’s presence at the celebrations in New Delhi where he will be the chief guest.
“The NIA has detained some people at several locations….We cannot say anything more at this stage,” a senior government official said, confirming that more than a dozen people were being interrogated by the NIA and intelligence agencies.
Sources said the crackdown covered Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana. There were unconfirmed reports that two suspects had also been picked up in Uttar Pradesh.
Some of the 14 suspects are reported to be amongst the 150-odd people, identified as IS sympthasiers, who have been on the radar of the security establishment for weeks and months.
According to the intelligence establishment, nearly 23 people may have already slipped out of the country to fight for the radical outfit in Iraq and Syria. Six of them are reported to have died.
The crackdown also followed the Islamic State’s claim that militants in Kashmir have pledged allegiance to the group which has provided it a “big opportunity” to expand its so-called caliphate to the area.
The Home ministry – that is coordinating the operations against the IS — has had two meetings of 12 states to discuss threat from the outfit in the last six months.
The first meeting was in August last year and the second was last Saturday when home minister Rajnath Singh had noted that the group had got an extremely limited traction in India and counted traditions and family values as the factors that would help “triumph over this evil”.
Singh had, however, cautioned against the security establishment letting its guard down and asked officers to keep up the vigil.