‘Terror suspects’ caught in AP turn out to be Iranian tourists

Bhubaneswar/Visakhapatnam: The five persons who were detained in Nakapalli area of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh yesterday on the suspicion of being terrorists, were found to be tourists from Iran who had entered the country with valid documents.

Visakhapatnam Superintendent of Police (Rural), Koya Praveen said the group comprised two couples and a 20-year-old youth.

“Based on the information passed on by Odisha Police, we intercepted a Toyota Corolla vehicle bearing Delhi registration number yesterday night. After verifying documents and all other factors, they were found to be genuine tourists with valid documents. Moreover after crosschecks we found the information provided by them are true. They have been let off,” Visakhapatnam SP (Rural) Koya Praveen said.

The scrutiny of documents and verification with the Indian embassy in Iran confirmed that they were tourists and had visited India twice before, the official stated.

“They have valid documents like, visa, passport and immigration certificate. After through interrogation we allowed them to proceed to Bengaluru,” the SP said.

Reaching India in the last week of December, the group visited Delhi, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata and reached Bhubaneswar on January 25.

At a hotel in Bhubaneswar, the staff asked to see their passports. The group left because they didn’t like the hotel; but the hotel staff didn’t understand this and alerted the police thinking they were fleeing, Praveen said.

Since it was the eve of Republic Day, Odisha police who were on high alert traced their Delhi-registered car to the border with AP, and alerted the police here.

The officials of Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha Police who jointly interrogated the group at Nakkpalli said the group before proceeding to Srikakulam in AP had visited four hotels in Bhubaneswar but didn’t find the accommodation suitable. They stated, the police stopped the group at Nakkpalli before the latter could reach Srikakulam.

(With agency inputs)