A top militant commander and his associate were arrested in a private vehicle in Kulgam district of J&K on Saturday. The two were caught with a decorated J&K police officer whose recent posting was at the Srinagar airport.
Senior officers, including Kashmir IGP Vijay Kumar, were tightlipped about the matter. There was no official confirmation from police till late Saturday.
The arrested militant was identified as Syed Naveed Mushtaq, alias Naveed Babu, a former policeman who joined militancy in 2017. His associate was identified as Asif.
A senior officer told The Sunday Express that a vehicle was intercepted at a checkpoint in Kulgam on Saturday and the DySP-ranked officer was caught with the militants. “We are investigating the officer’s presence with militants,” the senior officer said. Sources said the officer’s residence was searched.
Naveed, a policeman turned militant, had allegedly escaped with four rifles from Budgam district and joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2017. He quickly rose the ranks in the militant group to become its district commander for the very volatile Shopian district. At the time of joining militancy, Naveed was deployed to guard a facility of the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
While militants in the Valley have remained mostly silent suince August 5, several non-local fruit traders and labourers have been subsequently shot in Shopian. Police suspect Naveed’s role in these killings.
Naveed’s arrest is seen as a “major breakthrough”.
New IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar did not want to share information about the incident and asked The Sunday Express to contact the police’s media cell and DIG (South Kashmir) for more information. DySP media cell Kashmir zone Omar Rashid and DIG South Kashmir Atul Goel did not respond to multiple calls. SSP Kulgam Gurinderpal Singh said he had no information about the case.
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