THE CENTRE and the Punjab government have decided to hand over the investigations into the case involving the arrest of three armed Kashmiri students, associated with Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH), to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Punjab Director-General of Police Suresh Arora said Saturday.
The three students were arrested last month in a joint operation by the Punjab Police and Special Operations Group (SoG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police from the hostel of CT Institute of Engineering Management and Technology in Shahpur, on the outskirts of Jalandhar. Two weapons, including an Assault Rifle, were seized from them along with explosives.
The decision to hand over the case was taken after discussions between the Punjab government and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, said Arora.
Initial investigations had revealed that the students, identified as Zahid Gulzar, Mohammad Idriss Shah and Yusuf Rafiq Bhatt, were associated with ‘AGH’, a Kashmir-based terrorist outfit with reported links to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). According to sources, the outfit is headed by Zakir Rashid Bhatt aka Zakir Mussa.
While deciding to hand over the case to NIA, the two governments had also taken note of the fact that after these arrests, two more Kashmiri students were arrested by the Punjab Police in connection with the Maqsudan Police Station hand-grenade blasts case of September 14. Two of their accomplices were reported to be still absconding.
“This was indicative of efforts by Pakistan’s ISI to expand the arc of militancy on India’s western border,” said Arora, underlining the need to “unravel the entire conspiracy and network built by these outfits/individuals in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.”
Arora said the decision to hand over the investigations to NIA was aimed at ensuring speedy and more effective probe. The state government was also of the view that the growing attempts by Pakistan-based ISI and terror outfits/elements based abroad to revive terrorism in Punjab required strong and concerted efforts by the National Agency, which has the mandate to investigate all over the country and even abroad.
The Punjab Police, he said, would extend all necessary support and help to NIA to ensure that the investigations are completed, and the complete nexus of terrorist outfits/elements based in India and abroad is identified and broken at the earliest.