November 20, 2022 09:20 pm | Updated 11:35 pm IST – Bengaluru/Mangaluru/Shivamogga
The Mangaluru blast accused Mohammed Shariq, 24, hailing from Tirthahalli in Shivamogga district, looking after a readymade garments shop of his father, first came on the radar of the State police when he was arrested for pro-terror graffiti in Mangaluru city in November 2020.
The two graffiti read: “Do not force us to invite Lashkar-e-Taiba and Taliban to deal with Sanghis and Manuvadis. #Lashkar Zindabad” and “Gustakh E Rasool Ki Ek Hi Saza Sar Tan Se Jude”. He was arrested along with his engineering graduate associate Maaz Muneer Ahmed and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and was later released on bail. The case is still pending.
By the time, the agencies came across his activities again in August-September 2022, it was revealed he was an associate of a key member of an Islamic State offshoot Al Hind module and was the kingpin of a module he had put together in Shivamogga. But he had by then disappeared and turned out to be a challenge to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Karnataka police, before he turned up in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru with an IED. In the interim, he was in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and most recently in Mysuru, it has now come out.
Mohammed Shariq left for Mangaluru to work after his schooling. After his mother passed away at a young age, his father remarried. He was recently looking after his father’s cloth shop in Tirthahalli till August, after which his family has also reportedly lost contact with him. His father passed away recently.
Probing a stabbing incident in Shivamogga around Independence Day over putting up a photo of V.D. Savarkar, the Shivamogga Rural police had busted an alleged terror module with alleged links to Islamic State. The police had arrested Maaz Muneer Ahmed, 22, and Syed Yasin, 21, and recovered explosive materials from the duo.
Investigations had uncovered that they were radicalised by Mohammed Shariq and they had learnt making bombs through PDF files, videos and several materials sent to them by Shariq. The duo had prepared an IED and tested it successfully on the banks of Tungabhadra, the police had alleged. Incidentally, Maaz Muneer Ahmed was a co-accused in the graffiti case with Shariq in 2020.
Mohammed Shariq is said to be associated with Matheen Ahmed Taha, also hailing from Shivamogga and a member of Al Hind module, active in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Bengaluru-based Al Hind module was allegedly put together by Mehboob Pasha, a resident of Gurappanapalya, Bengaluru, and Khaja Moideen, a resident of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. The module was busted by the NIA in 2020 and multiple charge-sheets filed, alleging the group wanted to establish an IS province inside the jungles of South India. However, Matheen Ahmed Taha, a prominent member of this group, is still at large and Mohammed Shariq is suspected to be his associate.