After the fiasco over the nature of terror alerts, between the Centre and state, one defining it as specific and the other calling it general, another controversy is raging between the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Andhra Pradesh police over who should investigate the February 21 twin bomb blasts that claimed 16 lives and left 117 injured.
Top sources disclosed to Express that the NIA has written to the state government that the blasts case be handed over to it immediately.
“As discussed earlier, the case should be handed over to the NIA,” says the brief letter that reached the government on Saturday.
Though officials opine that the NIA is better equipped than the state police to probe the case, which appears to have a Pakistan link, the AP police who take the blasts investigation as a prestige issue, have decided against handing over the case to the NIA immediately.
The argument put forth by the state police is that though they would not be able to do much about the Pakistan-based handlers of Indian Mujahideen (IM), the terrorist outfit suspected behind the blasts, they intend to at least nab the local operatives who planted the IEDs in Dilsukhnagar. “Why should the entire credit go to NIA? Since it is essentially our case, we would like to crack the local angle and then hand over the case to NIA,” a police official, requesting anonymity, said.
The NIA, however, did not take things lying down. The agency which is engaged with gathering evidence from the site of blasts, questioning suspects and piecing together the mystery from day one, is understood to have taken up the matter with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The argument of the NIA is that they cannot afford to leave one part of investigation to the state police and keep the other with them, which may lead to several complications, primarily coordination.
“Moreover, the AP police have entrusted the probe to the SIT in Hyderabad city police, the Cyberabad police, the CID, Task Force, the Counter Intelligence cell. How many agencies will probe the case? This will lead to chaos,” sources, quoting NIA officials, said.
As per the unwritten agreement between the Centre and states, NIA can take up investigation only after a formal proposal goes from the state government concerned.
Since no such proposal came from the state government even 48 hours after the twin blasts, the NIA went ahead and wrote a letter to the government.
Though NIA, which functions under the MHA, can have the orders issued directly from Delhi, the idea behind allowing the state government to send in the request is to ensure that the state governments does not feel the Centre is intruding into its territory.
Over the last three days, the state police have maintained that they have credible leads and are hopeful of a breakthrough.
It is learnt that several discussions have taken place at the highest levels in the government during which the AP police officials insisted that the case be handed over to the NIA only at a later stage.
In the meantime, NIA officials have fanned out across the country, questioning suspects in Bangalore, Bihar and other places even as they wait for the formal takeover of the case and sources indicated that it may not happen at the moment.