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Kerala cops confirm Popular Front terror camp in Kannur

Thursday, 25 April 2013 | PNS | Kannur

The Kerala Police on Wednesday confirmed that the training camp held at a secret facility they had raided at Narath, Kannur on Tuesday and the 21 activists of the Popular Front of India they had arrested from there had terror connections, strengthening the apprehensions that the Malabar region had become one of the terror hubs in South India.

The raid had yielded several weapons, bombs, a human dummy for target-practising and several Islamist pamphlets and Iranian identification document, etc. According to the police, the camp was meant for imparting training intended for springing terror acts and in carrying out high-intensity explosions.

The police learned about the terror connections of the camp and the fact that some of those arrested had already received terror training from information gathered during their interrogation. They said some of those held had even planned and executed serious crimes. The case could be handed over to the National Investigation Agency, sources said.

The raid was held at the office building of Thanal Charitable Trust, a body with alleged connections with the Popular Front, whose activists were behind the attack on Prof TJ Joseph of Muvattupuzha, Ernakulam in July, 2010 in which his right hand was chopped off as punishment for setting a test paper in which a question allegedly blasphemed Prophet Muhammad.

Following the indications of the terror link of the training camp and of those who participated in it, Additional Director General of Police (North) Shanker Reddy reached Kannur. Raul R Nair, Superintendent of Police, Kannur cancelled his leave considering the seriousness of the case and conducted inspection at the facility.

Apart from weapons, bombs and bomb-making materials, the police had also seized an Iranian identity card and foreign currency from those taken into custody generating suspicions that they could have foreign connections too. The police have got indications that the arrested persons had been receiving money and telephone calls from abroad.

The articles seized from the facility during the raid included flags and pamphlets of the Popular Front, its political wing Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and the National Development Front, the former Avatar of the PFI. Police officials said that a detailed report on the findings would be submitted to the State Home Department immediately.

A document in which names of several leading personalities and details of their organizations and institutions and vehicles had been written had also been seized from the facility. The police suspect that this could be a hit-list. Sources said that the facility was a permanent training camp that could have been in operation for the past two years.

The Popular Front leadership and those arrested claimed that a Yoga training programme was being held at the facility as part of a personality development programme the outfit had organized. However, the police during questioning learned that the trainers did not have even the faintest ideas about Yoga.

Abdul Aziz of Mattannur, one of the trainers at the camp, is the first accused in the case pertaining to the brutal murder of a Hindu Aikya Vedi leader eight years back. Another trainer, Fahad, is an accused in a case pertaining to the attempt to murder a CPI(M) worker. The police said several of those arrested had been involved in various crimes.

Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran said the Kerala Police was presently probing the matter effectively and that the NIA would take over the case if necessary. The Opposition leader wanted the probe to be handed over to the NIA.

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