Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday arrested four suspected Pakistani spies and claimed to have busted an ISI plot to revive militancy in the otherwise peaceful Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Police arrested Saddam Hussain, Mohammad Shafi and Mohammad Saleem hailing from Kathua district, and Safdal Ahmed of Udhampur district’s Basantgarh area after two other Pakistani spies — Nadim Akhtar of Kathua’s Malhar area and Mushtaq Ahmed of Doda revealed information regarding them. Akhtar and Ahmed have been in police custody since May 29. With this, six alleged Pakistani spies have been arrested by the army and police over the last nine days.
Nadim and Mushtaq were apprehended by Army personnel when they were moving outside Ratnuchak military station in Samba district and taking photographs of army installations under suspicious circumstances. Some photos of army installations and maps were retrieved from their mobile phones.
As per their modus operandi, they used to take photographs and videos recording the movement of the security forces and send them to their handlers in Pakistan via WhatsApp. Apart from this, they also used to work as overground workers of Hizbul Mujahideen and motivate youth in their respective areas to joint terror ranks, sources said.
Sources added that those arrested were in contact with Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen handler Aziz and Iftikar, a Colonel-level officer in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, sources said. Just before their arrest, Nadim and Mushtaq had messaged Aziz on Whatsapp, sources said, post which they had received Rs 2,00,000 in their bank account.
The apprehended spies used to interact with their Pakistani handlers through WhatsApp in code words using smileys and emojis, sources informed, adding that the messages were deleted from the receiver’s phones once they got the text.
Ratnuchak Military station had been the target of militants in the past as well. In December last year, Army had foiled a possible terror attack at Ratnuchak Military Station when an alert sentry noticed two armed militants and opened fire at them which led them to flee, leaving one injured.
Earlier in February last year, militants had stormed Sunjwan Military station in Jammu killing half a dozen security personnel and a civilian before they were gunned down.
Meanwhile, Doda district, besides Basantgarh in Udhampur and Kathua’s Malhar area, forms an axis which acts as a foot route for nomads to travel along with their cattle to highland pastures in Chenab Valley, adjoining Kashmir Valley and even Kargil during summers. These areas were once a hotbed for militancy during 1990s but later was declared militancy free by police since the past 6-7 years.