The Jammu Kashmir Police have busted an interstate gang of burglars and arrested two thieves who had been active in areas surrounding Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Trikua Hills. Pointing out that all the arrested thieves hail from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Reasi district Senior Superintendent of Police, Tahir Bhat said that 40 smart phones valuing more than Rs 9 lakh and cash worth Rs 23,800 recovered from them. The kingpin of the gang has been identified as Mohammad Shakeel (41) of Purni Semipuri, New Delhi.
These arrests followed a complaint from one Pawan Verma of Mahanpur in Kathua district that his mobile phone and some other belongings have been stolen from Bathing Ghat area near the shrine. The police laid a trap by leaving some goods in the area and when a person lifted them, the cops in civies caught hold of him.
Later, during the questioning thief revealed the names of his 19 more associates who were later arrested from different places near the shrine and Katra town. They included Javed, Azhar Sadiqui, Anees Ahmad, Shamsun-ul-Hassan and Sonu (all Delhi), Mohammad Jeeshan and Anil Kumar (both Bihar), besides Farhan Hussain, Mohammad Ashu, Mohammad Sameer, Allah Rakha, Buri, Shahid Alam, Dilshad, Ashu Pardav, Mohammad Shafi, Mohammad Riaz,Mohammad Basu and Mohammad Sohaib (all Uttar Pradesh).
About their modus operandi, SSP said that the gang members reached Katra town, which also acts as base camp to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine last Friday and stayed in different hotels there. After spending their day in their hotel rooms, they used to leave for the shrine late evening and return after committing theft.
The burglars are being questioned and there is a possibility of more arrests as involvement of some locals also cannot be ruled out in the matter.