Sources said Brenton Tarrant largely travelled and stayed in southern states, spending considerable time in Goa.
Brenton Tarrant, the lone gunman who killed 51 people, including five Indians, in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019, had stayed in Goa, Mumbai and Jaipur, among the seven-eight places he visited in India, in 2015-16.
Following inputs from their counterparts in New Zealand, Indian intelligence agencies launched an investigation into Tarrant’s three-month visit to India. They found that Tarrant, an Australian, travelled extensively in India between November 21, 2015, and February 18, 2016.
Sources said Tarrant largely travelled and stayed in southern states, spending considerable time in Goa. He spent a few days in Mumbai too; the only north Indian state he visited was Rajasthan.
“We have verified the information provided by New Zealand authorities about his travel details. As yet, we have not found anything that suggests that any of his activities here, or connections made thereof, had any link with the attack. There is nothing to suggest that his travels in India could have prompted him to carry out that ghastly attack,” said a senior intelligence official.
“He stayed in cheap accommodations, largely popular with backpackers, and visited spots popular with tourists from the West. His itinerary shows that he largely stayed in South India, barring one visit to Jaipur. He stayed for quite a few days in Goa, largely putting up in accommodations near the beaches,” the official added.
Sources said his interactions were limited to fellow travellers and local people involved in the business of travel, hotels or adventure activities. “All this points to the fact that his interests in India were limited to travel. The probe by New Zealand authorities has found that Tarrant travelled extensively across the world before carrying out the attack. He had even visited Muslim countries like the UAE and Pakistan. In any case, in his own admission, he has said that he was inspired to carry out the attack after visiting Europe in 2017,” said another official.
Between April 15, 2014, and August 17, 2017, Tarrant travelled extensively — always alone, except for his visit to North Korea as part of a tour group. The countries that he visited for periods of about a month or more included China, Japan, Russia and South Korea among others.
Before the attack in March 2019, Tarrant had put up online posts that contained anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and Right Wing extremist views. He had mounted a camera on his head, and live-streamed the attack. He received a life sentence in August 2020.
According to agency reports, in December 2020, the Royal Commission of Inquiry in New Zealand released a 792-page report on the attack that claimed Tarrant, 30, worked as a personal trainer at a local gym until 2012 when he suffered an injury.
“He never again worked in paid employment. Instead, he lived off the money that he had received from his father and income from investments made with it. With the money from his father, the individual travelled extensively. First, in 2013, he explored New Zealand and Australia and then between 2014 and 2017 he travelled extensively around the world,” PTI quoted the report as having said.
According to the probe, Tarrant moved to New Zealand in 2017