The Coimbatore Police in Tamil Nadu on Monday arrested five persons in connection with a car explosion in the city, reported The News Minute.

The arrested men have identified as Mohammad Thalka (25), Mohammad Asarudheen (25), Mohammad Riyaz (27), Feroz Ismail (27) and Mohammad Navaz Ismail (27).

The blast took place near a temple in Ukkadam, a sensitive area of the city, on Sunday in the car that contained liquified petroleum gas cylinders and some other materials, including nails. A man identified as Jamesha Mubeen was driving the car and killed in the explosion.

During the investigation, the police recovered explosive materials such as potassium nitrate, aluminium powder, sulphur, and charcoal from Mubeen’s home, raising questions if the incident was part of terror plot, a reported The Indian Express.

The five men were arrested after the police found close-circuit television footage showing some men carrying a gunny bag from Mubeen’s home to the car on October 20, a day before the explosion.

Given the evidence, Tamil Nadu Director General of Police C Sylendra Babu has neither confirmed nor ruled out a terror plot behind the blast, according to The Indian Express. Babu has said that the police are looking into every possibility as the materials taken from his home “may have been meant for a future plan”.

An unidentified official has told The Indian Express that Mubeen was questioned by the National Investigation Agency in connection with the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka.

“He [Mubeen] was one among the five people we had to examine in 2019 since he had been attending Bayan classes at a Coimbatore mosque of the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath [an Islamic organisation],” the official said. “These classes were closely related to Mohammed Azarudeen, who had direct contact with Zahran Hashim, the mastermind and the leader of the suicide bombers in Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka.”

The blasts pertains to a series of attacks carried by a nine suicide bombers in 2019 at three churches and several luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. The bombings had killed 269 persons, including 11 Indians.

While the Islamic State had claimed responsibility, the investigators had blamed the National Thowheed Jamath for the attacks.

Azarudeen was arrested in connection with the blasts for allegedly recruiting many youths from Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

AIADMK seeks independent investigation

Meanwhile, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami and its ousted coordinator O Panneerselvam on Tuesday separately questioned Chief Minister MK Stalin, demanding that those behind the incident be brought to justice, reported The Hindu.

“I insist on an independent investigation without any political pressure to find out whether this was an accidental blast due to the explosion of a gas cylinder or whether it was a case of sabotage,” Palaniswami said in a statement. “If so, [we need to find out] whether there are any anti-social elements behind this.”

Panneerselvam, on his part, claimed that the law and order situation in the state was still not normal despite him saying several times that terrorism, extremism, murder, robbery and violence were “widely prevalent” under the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government .

“If the director-general of police is visiting the site [in Coimbatore] to review the situation, it has become clear there is more to it,” he said. “Moreover, it only reminds us of the [Coimbatore serial] blasts in 1998 under the DMK government. There need not be any better example to say that the law and order situation in Tamil Nadu is deteriorating.”

In the 1998 blasts, 58 persons were killed and over 200 injured in 12 bomb attacks across the city.

On Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party also criticised the Stalin-led government for Sunday’s blast, reported BJP.

“How long will it take for the chief minister to accept the intelligence has failed,” BJP state chief K Annamalai said at a press conference, asking why the police have not specified the reason for the arrest of the five men and the charges against them.

Annamalai added that he has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the incident.