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Coimbatore man held for ties with Easter attack mastermind

NIA probe nets six-member module propagating IS ideology on social media

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday arrested a Facebook friend of Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, and detained five others in Coimbatore.

NIA alleged that the prime suspect Mohammed Azharudheen, 32, and his associates were “propagating the ideology of proscribed terrorist organisation Islamic State on social media with the intention of recruiting vulnerable youth for carrying out terrorist attacks in South India, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.”

NIA claimed Azharudheen was highly radicalised and was running a Facebook page called “Khilafah GFX.”

“We do not know if Azharudheen’s acquaintance with Hashim was only limited to interactions on Facebook or went beyond it. We are questioning him but have named him and five others in the FIR. His online activities were under watch for a few months now,” said an NIA official. The residence and offices of the suspects were searched on Wednesday.

The other suspected members of the module have been identified as Akram Sindhaa, 26, Y. Shiek Hidayathullah, 38, Abubacker M., 29, Sadham Hussain, 26, and Ibrahim Shah, 28, all residents of Coimbatore.

Houses searched

The NIA conducted searches at seven places in Coimbatore, including the houses of the accused.

Mobile phones, an electric baton, 300 air-gun pellets and a large number of documents along with a few posters of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and SDPI pamphlets were seized during the search, the agency said. Agency sleuths also interrogated the accused during the raids that lasted for several hours.

(Inputs from Wilson Thomas and R. Akileish)

Five CRPF jawans killed in militant attack in Kashmir

Security forces fired on in Anantnag

CRPF men shifting the body of their colleague at Anantnag in south Kashmir on Wednesday. REUTERS

Five CRPF personnel were killed and one police officer was among four injured in a militant attack on security forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag on Wednesday afternoon. An unidentified militant was also killed.

A senior police official said two militants attacked a joint deployment of the CRPF and the police. The militants, who came on a motorbike, fired at the security forces and lobbed grenades on a busy stretch near Oxford School on K.P. Road around 4.55 p.m. “Five CRPF jawans were killed and the body of one Pakistani militant was recovered from the spot. Another militant is believed to have escaped,” said Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) S.P. Pani.

Another senior police official said one of the attackers was immediately spotted and “engaged in a stand-off fire”.

New Agra Bar Council president shot dead

Darvesh Singh Yadav ANI

Darvesh Singh Yadav, the newly elected president of the Bar Council of Agra, was on Wednesday shot dead by a fellow lawyer on the premises of the Agra civil court. She was elected just two days ago.

Additional DGP (Agra zone) Ajay Anand said Ms. Yadav was shot dead by her associate Manish Sharma at a welcome ceremony in the Bar Council chamber.

When the programme was on, Sharma stood up and fired thrice at Ms. Yadav with his licensed pistol. He then turned the gun on himself. Ms. Yadav was rushed to a hospital, where she was declared dead. Sharma is in a “critical” condition.

Compensation sought

The Bar Council of India condemned the murder and demanded security for its members. It sought a minimum compensation of ₹50 lakh to the family of the victim, reported agencies.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav took a dig at the Yogi Adityanath government for the incident and said rapes, murders and political killings were increasing at an alarming rate.

“The CM is chairing meetings upon meetings but the law and order situation is only deteriorating. Now the first woman head of the bar council of Agra has been shot. Even upholders of the law are not safe,” Mr. Yadav said on Twitter.

Cyclone Vayu to be very severe: IMD

Wind speeds of 175 km per hour likely

To safe shores: Fishermen moving a boat from the Veraval port in Gujarat. Vijay Soneji

With cyclonic storm ‘Vayu’ inching closer to Gujarat, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) classified it as a “very severe” storm and predicted wind speeds of up to 175 km per hour during landfall on the Saurashtra coast around noon on Thursday.

An IMD update on Wednesday evening said, “Vayu is about 280 km south of Veraval in Gujarat and likely to cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval.”

According to the Gujarat government, the cyclonic storm is likely to be extremely severe when it will hit the coast between Veraval and Dwarka.

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