The year-end Press Release of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claims a stupendous 94.70% conviction rate, approximately 28% more arrests, and Rs. 56 crores worth of assets attached.

The title of the Press Release dated December 31, 2023 reads, “NIA's terror crackdown scales new high in 2023: jihadis, terror outfits-gangsters operating in Punjab & Naxals take brunt of action.”

The press release says that with a stupendous conviction rate of 94.70%, arrest of 625 accused, and attachment of assets worth around Rs. 56 crores, the NIA notched new milestones of success in its fight against terrorists, gangsters, drug smugglers, human traffickers and other criminals operating against national interests during 2023.

“Some of the most notable successes for NIA during the year were against ISIS, Kashmiri and other Jihadis, as well as against the growing terror-gangster nexus & networks active in the country. All these categories of terrorists and organized criminal groups have been on the NIA radar for the past few years and the anti-terror agency cracked down aggressively during 2023 on the agents and operatives working for these terror groups”, it reads.

It further claims that the attacks on the High Commissions of India in Ottawa and London, as well as on the Consulate General of India, San Francisco, USA, also remained the focus of the NIA actions offences against Indian interests abroad through the year, which witnessed more than 50 aids and searches as part of the agency's efforts to unravel the conspiracy behind the attacks on Indian Missions abroad.

The press release also says, “The attacks had involved criminal trespass, vandalism, damage to public property, and attempts to cause hurt to Indian officials and damage the Consulate building through acts of arson. NIA has used several innovative methods of investigation, including crowd sourcing of information while investigating the larger conspiracy of attacks on Indian Missions, which resulted in identification of 43 suspects. The NIA has stepped up its investigation in these cases in recent months and examined more than 20 persons in India suspected to be part of the conspiracy of the attacks.”

It has been further mentioned that overall, the year witnessed the NIA scale up in operations manifold across India as against the previous year. As compared with 490 accused arrested in 2022, the total number of arrests made by the NIA in 2023 year stood at 625-a nearly 28% increase over the previous year. It is stated that these include 65 accused arrested in ISIS cases, 114 arrested for jihadi terror cases, 45 accused of human trafficking cases, 20 accused of terrorist and organized criminal activity and 76 accused of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) cases.

“NIA registered a total of 68 cases in 2023, covering a wide spectrum of terror related incidents. These encompass 18 Jihadi terror cases in multiple states, 03 cases from J&K, 12 cases of LWE, 07 cases involving terrorist & Organised Criminal activity in Punjab, 05 cases of the Northeast, and 02 cases related to Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN). … The number of persons chargesheeted and convicted stood, respectively, at 513 and 74, as against 459 and 79 in 2022. The 74 accused convicted during 2023 were sentenced to various quantums of ‘Rigorous Imprisonment’ and 'Fines as punishment. The agency has maintained a robust overall conviction rate of 94.70%, underscoring the efficacy of its investigational and prosecution expertise, effectiveness and prowess”, read the press release.

NIA has said that as far as absconders go, it has managed to track down and arrest 47 accused in 2023, which was 14 more than the previous year and one of the biggest breakthroughs in this regard came with the arrest of a key absconding accused in the Attari border heroin seizure case, involving smuggling of over 102 kgs of the narcotics from Afghanistan via the India-Pak border. Also, arrests made upon deportation and extradition signify its commitment to pursuing offenders across its international borders.

“While Amritpal Singh @ Ammy, Amrik Singh, Manpreet Singh @ Peeta and Mandeep Singh were deported from the Philippines, Vikram Brar was arrested upon deportation from the UAE. … The number of searches and raids by the NIA also recorded a significant increase over the previous year, going up from 957 in 2022 to 1040 in 2023. In line with its targeted strategy to squeeze terror funding, and to seize properties and dismantle the terror and crime ecosystems, the NIA amplified its focus on attachment and seizure of properties and other assets accrued by criminals and terrorists through illegal and unlawful activities in a big way during the year, especially in Jammu and Kashmir”, it also claims.

NIA added that in 2022, the Agency had attached a total of 37 properties worth Rs. 10.53 crore, while in 2023, the figure went up to 240 (including 156 bank accounts) with a total value of Rs. 55.90 crore and these properties belonged to the accused and suspects involved in terrorism, LWE, explosives, and other prominent cases.

It has been mentioned that, “The attachments, made under various provisions of UA(P)A, included 12 properties (of which 04 were bank accounts) worth Rs. 1.5 crore, of six listed ‘Individual Terrorists’. The crackdowns on violent Jihad across India proved to be a huge accomplishment for NIA during 2023, which saw several modules of the banned global ISIS being busted through nationwide raids and searches. A total of 15 accused were arrested in December, following aids at 44 locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka, which also led to the seizure of huge amounts of incriminating materials. A similar crackdown led to the arrest of operatives of the ISIS Ballari module on 18th December thus enabling the NIA to foil the banned global terrorist organisation's plans to carry out a series of terror acts, especially IED blasts, across the country. Crackdowns were also carried out against such radicalized ISIS and HuT modules in Jabalpur and Bhopal in separate cases in September.”

Furthermore, NIA has claimed that it registered two cases, charge-sheeted 55 persons, conducted 253 raids, arrested 27 persons and attached 18 properties in 2023 and that the consistent coordination with international agencies has resulted in action against foreign nodes of the Syndicate. It says that another target category during the year was Left Wing Extremism, with massive crackdowns carried out against cadres and sympathizers of the banned CPI Maoist and People's Liberation Front of India (PLFI).

“In a major breakthrough, NIA arrested Dinesh Gope, the PLF Supremo, a splinter group of CPI (Maoist), in May 2023. He was absconding for almost two decades and wanted in more than 150 cases of State Police as well as the NIA, and was carrying accumulative reward of Rs 30 lakh announced by the State Police and NIA for his capture”, the press release read.

As per NIA, the year 2023 also witnessed a sharp focus on human trafficking involving Bangladesh and Myanmar nationals at the Indo-Bangladesh border and that the arrest of four more accused from Tripura in December marked a major triumph for the NIA, which had earlier, in November, arrested 29 key operatives following nationwide raids on transnational Human Trafficking Syndicates involved in the case.

“In addition, four terrorist organisations - The Resistance Force (TRF), People's Anti-Fascists Front (PAFF), Jammu & Kashmir Ghanzavi Force (JKGF) and Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) have been banned in response to the proposal made by the NIA. The agency is actively pursuing necessary actions against these designated individuals and terrorist organisations to effectively counter their activities”, it said.

NIA says that as part of the strategy to curtail terrorist activities, NIA successfully organised the Anti Tenor Conference from November 5-6, 2023, demonstrating its commitment to fostering strengthening, synchronizing, and boosting the counter-terrorism response and measures across the nation.