ATS detains nine in Republic Day swoop

Mumbai: Ahead of the Republic Day celebrations, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) detained nine youths, four from Mumbra and five from Aurangabad, early on Tuesday morning. The ATS is questioning the detained youths to ascertain any links they might have with any terrorist organisation.

According to police sources, the raids began on Sunday evening, when the police had detained a 22-year-old suspect, who was on his way from Mumbra to Aurangabad. After preliminary questioning, the ATS learned about the other suspects and made the other detentions.

“More searches are under way at numerous premises in order to collect additional evidence about their activities as well as affiliations. The detained nine are suspected to be part of two sleeper cells based in Mumbra and Aurangabad,” added the official.

The four youths detained from Mumbra were planning to leave for Aurangabad later on Tuesday to attend a seminar organised by the Popular Front of India. The ATS were keeping a close watch on their movements and detained them before they could proceed to Aurangabad. These four youths are childhood friends.

While three were detained from their homes in Mumbra, one was detained while he was on his way back home. The PFI is allegedly the hidden face of the banned extremist and militant organisation – the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

When contacted Sadiq Qureshi, state president of the Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the socialist front of PFI, denied any such close affiliation. “I am not aware about the PFI and not interested in knowing about it,” said Qureshi. An ATS officer said on request of confidentiality, “We are scanning the e-mail ID and the social media accounts of the detained youths.’’

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