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625 arrests including 65 ISIS terrorists, 1040 raids, 513 chargesheets, 74 convictions: How NIA battled terrorists and achieved 94.7% conviction rate in 2023

The overall number of arrests made by the NIA this year was 625, representing a roughly 28% increase over the 490 suspects apprehended in 2022. These include 114 accused of jihadi terror, 45 accused of human trafficking, 28 accused of terrorism and organized crime, 76 accused of Lek-Wing Extremism (LWE), and 65 accused of ISIS crimes.

In 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached assets valued at approximately Rs 56 crores and achieved an astounding conviction rate of 94.70 percent in its battle against terrorism.

The overall number of arrests made by the NIA this year was 625, representing a roughly 28% increase over the 490 suspects apprehended in 2022. These include 114 accused of jihadi terror, 45 accused of human trafficking, 28 accused of terrorism and organized crime, 76 accused of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE), and 65 accused of ISIS crimes.

In 2023, the anti-terror organization reported 68 cases in total, encompassing a variety of terror-related occurrences.

These include 18 cases of Jihadi terror throughout several states, 3 cases from Jammu and Kashmir, 12 cases of LWE, 7 cases with terrorist and organized crime connections in Punjab, 5 cases from the Northeast, and 2 cases with Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).

The number of persons chargesheeted and convicted stood at 513 and 74, respectively, as against 459 and 79 in 2022. The 74 defendants found guilty in 2023 received punishments including varying terms of “rigorous imprisonment” and “fines.”

NIA’s fight against absconders

As far as the absconders are concerned, the NIA found and apprehended 47 suspects in 2023, which was 14 higher than the previous year. The arrest of major absconding accused in the Attari border heroin seizure case, which involved transporting over 102 kg of the drugs from Afghanistan via the India-Pak border—was one of the largest developments in this respect.

Furthermore, arrests made in connection with extradition and deportation demonstrate NIA’s dedication to pursuing criminals outside its borders. Vikram Brar was detained upon expulsion from the United Arab Emirates, while Amritpal Singh alias Ammy, Amrik Singh, Manpreet Singh alias Peeta, and Mandeep Singh were deported from the Philippines.

The number of NIA searches and raids increased from 957 in 2022 to 1,040 in 2023, a notable rise over the previous year. The agency had attached 37 properties totalling Rs 10.53 crore in 2022; by 2023, that number increased to 240 (including 156 bank accounts) with a total value of Rs 55.90 crore. These properties belonged to the suspects and accused in high-profile cases involving explosives, LWE, terrorism, and other matters. The attachments, made under the UA(P)A provisions, include 12 properties (four of which were bank accounts) valued at Rs 1.5 crore belonging to six “Individual Terrorists”.  

Multiple ISIS cells dismantled through widespread searches and raids

The NIA further achieved a great deal in 2023 as a result of the crackdowns on violent jihad throughout India, as multiple ISIS cells were dismantled through widespread searches and raids.

Following raids at 44 locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka, which also resulted in the seizure of massive amounts of evidence, a total of 15 accused were taken into custody in December. Eight members of the ISIS Ballari module were apprehended on December 18 as a result of a similar operation, which allowed the NIA to thwart the plans of the outlawed international terrorist groups to carry out several terror attacks, including IED explosions, throughout the nation. Jabalpur and Bhopal separately saw crackdowns against such radicalized ISIS and HUT modules in September. 

Another top focus of the NIA’s investigations has been breaking the link between terrorists and gangsters. In 2023, the NIA filed two cases, charged 55 people, carried out 253 raids, detained 27 people, and attached 18 assets as part of its campaign against this network.

Additionally, constant cooperation with foreign authorities has led to the Syndicate’s foreign nodes being targeted for action. One of the most important successes of the NIA’s campaign against terrorist-gangster syndicates has been the arrest of Deepak Ranga, the main suspect in the RPG attack on the Punjab Police intelligence headquarters.

Ranga was the chief executioner of the terrorist activities of Lakhbir Singh Landa, based in Canada, and Harwinder Singh Sandhu, alias Rinda, based in Pakistan. Both are designated “Individual Terrorists” and members of the banned terrorist organization Babbar Khalsa International (BKI). Ranga was wanted in multiple cases of terrorism and criminal acts.

Action against human trafficking

The NIA also sharply increased its focus on human trafficking at the Indo-Bangladesh border in 2023, involving citizens of Bangladesh and Myanmar. After conducting nationwide raids on transnational Human Trafficking Syndicates implicated in the case, the NIA detained 29 key operatives in November. The arrest of four more accused from Tripura in December was a significant victory for the agency.

6 new terrorists identified, 4 terrorist organizations outlawed

Six people—Mohammed Amin Khubaiab alias Abu Khubalab alias Pinna alias Muhammed Amin Butt, Arbaz Ahmad Mir, Or Asif Maqbool Dar, Arshdeep Singh Gill alias Arsh Dala, Harwinder Singh Sandhu alias Rinda, and Lakhbir Singh Landa were named “Individual Terrorists” by the Indian government during the year, marking yet another significant victory for the NIA.

Furthermore, in reaction to the NIA’s recommendation, four terrorist organizations namely, The Resistance Force (TRF), People’s Anti-Fascists Front (PAFF), Jammu and Kashmir Ghanzavi Force (JKGF), and Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) were outlawed. The agency is vigorously pursuing the appropriate actions against these identified individuals and terrorist groups to effectively counter their operations.

Action against anti-India activities abroad

Throughout the year, the NIA conducted over 50 raids and searches in an attempt to uncover the conspiracy behind the attacks on Indian Missions abroad. These operations were focused on offences against Indian interests abroad, with particular attention paid to the attacks on the Consulate General of India in San Francisco, USA, and the High Commissions of India in Ottawa and London.

Vandalism, illegal trespass, destruction of public property, and attempts to harm Indian officials and inflict arson damage to the Consulate building were all part of the attacks.

In the process of looking into the bigger conspiracy of attacks against Indian Missions, the NIA has employed several cutting-edge investigative techniques, such as crowd-sourcing information, which has led to the identification of 43 individuals. In recent months, the NIA has also intensified its probe into these cases and questioned around 80 Indian citizens who may have been involved in the assault plot.

Overall, compared to the previous year, the NIA increased the scope of its operations throughout India significantly this year.

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