In an RTI response to TNM, the Home Ministry stated that the most number of arrests of IS members and/or sympathisers were made from the state of Tamil Nadu.

Arrest of people with links to Islamic State by NIA TN tops list Maharashtra and UP nextPTI file image
news Crime Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 16:27

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested 177 persons from across the country for their links with the Islamic State between May 2014 and December 2019.

In an RTI response to The News Minute dated February 13, 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that the most number of arrests of IS members and/or sympathisers were made from the state of Tamil Nadu, where the number of arrests stands at 34. Maharashtra is second on the list, with 26 arrests, followed by Uttar Pradesh (25), Kerala (19), Telangana (17) and Jammu and Kashmir (11).

The reason why the number is high in Tamil Nadu can be attributed to the series of arrests made by the NIA in the year 2019.

In June 2019, the NIA had raided several locations in Coimbatore against persons who were accused of ‘propagating IS/Daesh ideology’ on social media and had an intention to recruit people to carry out attacks in south India, particularly in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. At the time, the NIA had also found that one of the accused was a Facebook friend of the mastermind of the 2019 Easter bomb blasts in Sri Lanka that killed around 250 people. In total, 16 people were arrested from Tamil Nadu then.

In December 2019, the NIA filed a chargesheet in a court in Ernakulam against two accused — 33-year-old Mohammed Azarudeen H and 38-year-old Shiek Hidayathullah — both natives of Tamil Nadu, under the charge of spreading the ideology of the Islamic State on social media “with intention to recruit vulnerable youth into ISIS for carrying out terrorist attacks in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.” 

The response from the government contradicts the widespread perception prevalent today — that Kerala is the biggest ‘hotspot’ for ISIS sympathisers in the country. A study conducted by the Observer Research Foundation had also said that the most number of ISIS-related cases come from the state of Kerala. “The southern state of Kerala has been found to have the highest number of pro-IS cases in all of India, with about 40 of the 180 to 200 cases,” the report stated.

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