NIA raids 15 locations in J&K in terror cases, Jaish offshoot’s member held

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In a statement, NIA said the searches were carried in assistance with J&K Police and CRPF, and Irfan Ahmed Dar, who comes from Batingoo in Anantnag, was arrested in connection with the LeM conspiracy case.

The NIA on Saturday arrested a suspected Lashkar-e-Mustafa (LeM) member and conducted search operations at 15 places in Jammu and Kashmir in connection with its probe into Lashkar-e-Taiba’s plans to carry out an IED explosion in Jammu city hours before the drone terror attack on the IAF station here early June 27, and LeM’s plans to carry out terror activities across the Union Territory.

The LeM is an offshoot of the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad, and its chief Hidyatullah Malik was arrested in Jammu’s Kunjwani area on February 6 last year.

In a statement, NIA said the searches were carried in assistance with J&K Police and CRPF, and Irfan Ahmed Dar, who comes from Batingoo in Anantnag, was arrested in connection with the LeM conspiracy case.

It said searches were conducted at nine places in Shopian, Anantnag and Jammu districts in connection with Hidyatullah’s arrest, and at six places in Shopian and Ramban in connection with the arrest of an LeT terrorist with 5 kg IED in Bhatindi.

During searches, many digital devices were seized, the agency stated. These include laptops, mobile phones, pen drives, hard discs, memory cards, shells of used bullets, CDs, booklets containing incriminating material, besides plastic face masks used during stone-pelting, handwritten jihadi material, ID card of Al-aqsa media and others.

During his interrogation by police, Hidayatullah had said that he had conducted reconnaissance of the Delhi office of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and sent a video of it to his handlers in Pakistan. He had also said that Jaish-e-Mohammad, which investigators say was behind the terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in 2019, was trying to create a terror network in Jammu and identify targets in Delhi.

According to police, he had created a network with the help of associates in Punjab to bring weapons from Bihar. They have so far brought seven pistols from Chhapra, Bihar, and distributed them among militants in Kashmir, officers said.

Following Hidayatullah’s arrest, police had arrested two Kashmiri students enrolled in private colleges on the periphery of Chandigarh, in connection with a plot to target Jammu on the second anniversary of Pulwama attack. Identifying the arrested students as Shuhail Bashir Shah and Qazi Wasim, both residents of Pulwama, police said the former had come from Chandigarh to plant a 7 kg IED at a crowded place in Jammu, but was arrested in the city.

The other case related to the arrest of Nadeem-ul-Haq, a member of ‘The Resistance Front’, an LeT offshoot, who was held with 5 kg IED from near a shopping mall in Narwal area on June 26, hours before the drone attack at the IAF station in the early hours of June 27. Following his disclosures, police had arrested two associates — Talib Rehman from Banihal and Nadeem-ul-Haq from Shopian.

In Jammu division’s Banihal area of Ramban district, sources said, NIA conducted searches at houses of Nadeem-ul-Haq (resident of Zenihal) and Talib Rehman (of Kaskoot), besides Nadeem Ayub Rather (from Shopian in Kashmir). The last two were arrested on the basis of Nadeem’s disclosure.

The NIA is trying to find the link between LeT’s plan to plant an IED in Jammu on June 26 evening and the drone attack on IAF station a few hours later, besides unearthing LeM’s network — suspected to stretch from J&K to Bihar. The probe agency had last week arrested two alleged LeM militants who come from Bihar’s Saran district.

Identified as Mohammad Arman Ali, alias Arman Mansuri, and Mohammad Ehsanullah, alias Guddu Ansari, the two were allegedly involved in transportation of two separate consignments of illegal arms and ammunition from Bihar to Mohali, Punjab, and Ambala in Haryana, according to officers. These weapons were further transported to Hidyatullah Malik, according to investigators.

Police sources said LeM and TRF were floated by JeM and LeT, respectively, to give Pakistan-aided terror activities a local look.

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