India detains suspected militants before Hollande visit

New Delhi, January 22

Indian police detained today several suspected militants as part of a nationwide security crackdown ahead of Republic Day celebrations at which France’s president will be the chief guest, officials said.

The National Investigation Agency, a federal police unit that probes terror offences, said operations were under way ahead of Republic Day on Tuesday, when India marks the anniversary of its democratic constitution taking force in 1950.

“Our operations are going on in several places across the country, in which several suspected people have been detained,” NIA spokesman SK Singh told AFP.

French President Francois Hollande was invited to India to be the guest of honour at this year’s Republic Day parade, which will be on the final day of his three-day visit.

France has said security will be high on the agenda after deadly Islamist attacks in Paris in November that evoked memories of the 2008 Mumbai attacks which left 166 people dead.

According to the Press Trust of India news agency, the NIA has arrested 14 suspected Islamic State group sympathisers in four different states, including Karnataka in the south.

It was unclear whether the “several people” mentioned by NIA’s Singh were part of the 14 suspects.

“We have been told that six terror suspects... have been arrested after raids since Thursday night,” Karnataka home minister G Parameshwara told reporters.

“The suspects are being interrogated by NIA teams,” he added.