Updated: September 22, 2021 5:48:32 am
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted multiple raids across Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday on premises belonging to several people, including a decorated former soldier, in searches reportedly connected with the first-ever drone attack on a defence base earlier this year and the recovery of 5 kg of IED said to be linked to it.
The NIA is trying to find a link between a suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to plant an IED in Jammu and the drone attack on the IAF station in the city a few hours later, on June 27. Officials said the probe had unearthed a network of the Lashkar-e-Mustafa (LeM), believed to be an offshoot of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, with operations stretching from J&K to Bihar. Last week, two alleged LeM militants belonging to Bihar’s Saran district were arrested — one from Jammu and another from Bihar.
Among those raided on Tuesday was Talib Naik, a resident of Kishtwar’s Masjid Mohalla, who retired from 159 Territorial Army in March, as well as a daily wager with the Public Health Engineering Department, Ghulam Mohammad Dar, belonging to Dithan Tandar in Doda.
A month after he had retired, Naik, the recipient of a Sena Medal for his services in anti-militancy operations, had had a fall at home, hit his head, and gone into a coma. He has been hospitalised since.
Sources said NIA officers were at Naik’s residence for nearly three hours from 5 am, and among other things, found an Army knife that he had not returned at the time of retirement. One of Naik’s cousins told The Indian Express that his uncle had failed to do so due to his accident.
Sources said NIA officers asked Dar about his son, who works in Ladakh as a labourer.
In an official statement, the NIA said the raids were carried out with the assistance of J&K Police and CRPF at eight locations, in Anantnag, Baramulla, Kulgam, Srinagar, Doda and Kishtwar, in connection with the Narwal IED seizure. The NIA said the LeT and its associates based in J&K were planning to carry out attacks under the name ‘The Resistance Front’ (TRF).
During the searches, the NIA said, many digital devices and incriminating material were recovered.
On June 26, hours before the drone attack, police had arrested Nadeem-ul-Haq, a resident of Jammu division’s Banihal and an alleged TRF member, with 5 kg IED from Narwal. This was followed by the arrest of his suspected associates Talib Rehman from Banihal in Jammu and Nadeem Ayub Rather from Shopian in Kashmir.
On July 31, the NIA had arrested a suspected LeM member and conducted search operations at 15 places as part of the probe.
Last week, arrests were made of Saran-based Mohammad Arman Ali alias Arman Mansuri, and Mohammad Ehsanullah alias Guddu Ansari, for alleged involvement in the transportation of two consignments of illegal arms and ammunition from Bihar to Mohali, Punjab, and Ambala, Haryana. Police said these weapons had been eventually transported to LeM chief Hidyatullah Malik.
Malik has been under arrest since February last year, when he was picked up from Jammu’s Kunjwani area. During interrogation, he had reportedly admitted to carrying out a reconnaissance of the Delhi office of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to send a video of it to his handlers in Pakistan. He had reportedly also told investigators that the Jaish was trying to create a terror network in Jammu and identify targets in Delhi.
Police claimed Malik had procured seven pistols from Chhapra in Bihar and distributed them among militants in Kashmir.
Following Malik’s arrest, police had also arrested two Kashmiri students enrolled in private colleges near Chandigarh, and claimed a plot to target Jammu on the second anniversary of the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy, killing 40 personnel, which was carried out by the Jaish.
Police sources say the LeM and TRF have been floated by the Jaish and LeT, respectively, to give Pakistan-aided terror activities a “local look”.
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