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‘Suspected foreign nationals fleeing Odisha hotel not terrorists’

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 28:

After chasing the case of four mysterious men fleeing a hotel in Odisha capital on being asked to produce identity proof to book room, the investigators have cleared the air on ‘suspected terrorists’ who had mysteriously disappeared from here on Republic Day eve.

mystery man

A top police official has clarified that the foreign nationals, who were detained at a police station in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh since yesterday, were not terrorists.

“The five Iranian citizens detained at Nakkapalli police station in Andhra Pradesh possess valid passports and visas. They had come to India on tourist visas. As some suspicion had come up, we are verifying from all the angles. Prima facie, they have come to India as tourists,” Visakhapatnam SP (Rural) Dr Praveen Koya said.

The foreign tourists had visited five hotels in the Odisha capital before heading to Srikakulum. They have plans to visit Bengaluru, Goa, Ajmer and Delhi, Koya added.

On the other hand, Crime Branch IG Arun Bothra further added that investigation is on over their suspicious behaviour at a city-based hotel on Republic Day eve night.

The five detained persons, including two women, have Iranian passports and visas. They have valid travel documents. They are not terrorists. Further interrogation is on, sources said.

Earlier yesterday, Nakkapalli police in Visakhapatnam intercepted a Toyota Corolla car bearing Delhi registration with five occupants reportedly resembling the suspects. They were taken to the local police station for interrogation.

Meanwhile, a team from Odisha Crime Branch (Special Task Force) arrived in Visakhapatnam to join the interrogation of the foreign nationals. They are currently questioning the Iranian nationals over their vanishing act, sources said.

It may be recalled that these Iranian tourists had created a flutter in the capital city on the eve of R-Day after city-based Hotel Arya Mahal staff had reported to the local police about the suspicious exit of a man who had come to enquire about occupancy. The visitor was said to have left the hotel in a huff on being asked to produce identity proof to book a room.

Following this, the Odisha police sounded a high alert and sealed the entry and exit points to the city to avoid and untoward incident and smooth passage of the R-Day celebrations.

In a joint operation by central agencies, Andhra Police and Delhi Police, Odisha counterparts traced the car passing through Girisola inter-state check gate in Ganjam. The car with five occupants was intercepted by Nakkapalli police station and were detained for questioning.

Meanwhile, the detainees have been freed after facing rounds of questioning.

It may be mentioned here that three Iranian tourists detained by Bargarh police have also been released, police said.