Woman held for links with IS tests positive in NIA custody

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A woman arrested for her alleged links with the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) and charged with instigating violent protests in Delhi in February has been hospitalised after testing positive for Covid-19 in the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) custody, people familiar with the matter said. It wasn’t immediately clear how Hina Bashir Beigh, 39, contracted the disease.

The people cited above said the interrogators have been asked to undergo Covid-19 tests and follow the quarantine process. A person aware of the developments said that around 7-8 officials, including a police superintendent, questioned Beigh last week.

Beigh and her husband, Jahanzaib Sami, who are from Srinagar, were arrested from Delhi in March for their alleged links with ISKP and for allegedly instigating protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

NIA, which is probing cases pertaining to IS in India, took the custody of Beigh, Sami and another suspect, Mohammad Abdullah Basith, from Delhi’s Tihar jail on May 29. Basith, who is from Hyderabad, was arrested in August 2018 for allegedly trying to carry out attacks in India and inspiring people to join the group.

The three tested Covid-19-negative when NIA took their custody, the people said. NIA questioned the three at the agency’s headquarters for nine days. Beigh developed Covid-19 symptoms during the interrogation and was tested again. NIA informed the duty magistrate at New Delhi’s Patiala House Courts Complex on Sunday that Beigh has been found positive for the infectious disease.

Her lawyer, MS Khan, said: “I urged the court that Beigh should be immediately referred to a hospital and permission be granted for her to talk to me regularly, which was not allowed earlier.”

Sami and Basith have not shown any signs of the disease yet, the people said.

An NIA spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls for a comment.

NIA on May 29 said the agency needs the custody of the three to “unearth a larger criminal conspiracy” as they were in touch with several unknown people in India and abroad. “Beigh, Sami and Basith were motivated by ISIS ideology and working for banned terror organisation ISKP in India for which they had created a lot of email IDs and secured social media chat platform IDs to interact with the like-minded persons for sharing the contents propagating the ideology of ISKP and ISIS in general,” according to the NIA remand paper accessed by HT.

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