Bangalore police filed an opposition to the bail petition of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who has been accused of running the Islamic State propaganda Twitter account @ShamiWitness, arguing that he played a major role in propagating the group’s ideology, local media reports said on Thursday.
The police also filed an application in a special terrorism court, seeking 180 more days to finalize charges against Biswas, according to the Indian Express. Biswas, a 24-year-old information technology (IT) worker, allegedly ran the pro-ISIS account, which expressed support for jihadis. His Twitter account has garnered over 17,000 followers.
Biswas has been in custody since his arrest in December, and the 90-day time limit for police to bring charges against him expired on Thursday. Police had reportedly filed the request on Monday.
A Bangalore court is reportedly set to hear the police’s application and Biswas’ bail petition next week. The police claim in their filing that the @ShamiWitness account was used to inform ISIS supporters across the world about the activities of the extremist group.
Biswas has reportedly been booked under an Indian law, which forbids “waging war against any Asiatic power in alliance with the Government of India,” a charge that carries a maximum sentence of seven years. Iraq and Syria are considered Asiatic allies of India. He has also been remanded for inciting or abetting terrorist acts, giving support to terrorists, and computer-related crimes.
Authorities have also said they were considering adding charges of “assaulting the modesty of a woman” and “promoting enmity between communities” for tweets, which allegedly encouraged the rape of female Kurdish fighters.
Police had previously said Biswas had been conclusively linked to ISIS and encouraged recruitment for the group. "Direct messages on his Twitter handle also show he encouraged people to join the terrorist outfit. He had been proactively tweeting," Bangalore Police Commissioner M.N. Reddi told reporters, according to the Times of India. Biswas has reportedly denied recruiting anyone for the group.
Bangalore police are reportedly unequipped to analyze the over 128,000 tweets on the @ShamiWitness account, and have outsourced the task to a local IT company.