Sajjad Khan, a 26-year-old Kashmiri arrested by NIA on suspicion of being a Jaish-e-Mohammed recruit, may have close links with the Pulwama attack, agency probe has indicated. An analysis of Sajjad’s call data records and social media exchanges has shown that he had conversations with slain JeM militant Mudassir Ahmed Khan right before and after the February 14 Pulwama attack.
Mudassir, who was killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir’s Tral on March 12, is being touted as among the key planners of the Pulwama attack along with Pakistani national Kamran (now dead).
“During interrogation he was confronted with evidence of his communication with Mudassir. He has given an explanation about the messages exchanged and the conversations to prove his innocence. The same is being verified. But the timing of these communications and certain other evidence that we have gathered indicates that he may be closely linked to the attack. The extent of his involvement remains to be ascertained,” an NIA officer said.
Sajjad is currently under arrest in an open FIR the NIA had registered against JeM following the Pulwama attack. He had initially been apprehended by Delhi Police Special Cell near Red Fort on March 21.
Following his apprehension, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Pramod Singh Kushwah had claimed that “Mudassir had contacted the accused over WhatsApp informing that the Pulwama attack was carried out and “also sent a video of the suicide bomber, which was later deleted by the accused”.
The DCP also claimed that Sajjad was tasked with recruiting youths for the JeM in Uttar Pradesh and other states. “The accused was trying to procure weapons, recruit youths and had carried out reconnaissance of important installations in the capital,” the DCP said.
NIA sources said the agency’s probe is currently focused on Sajjad’s Pulwama connections. “He has deleted many of his communications with suspects in the Pulwama attack. We have sent his phones to CertIn to retrieve deleted data and conduct analysis. Phones and electronic devices seized during raids at premises associated with other suspects in the attack are also being forensically examined,” the officer said.