December 7, 2008 2:50:20 am
The trail of the SIM cards recovered from terrorists in Mumbai has led to a J&K policeman who was arrested by police in New Delhi, taking the lid off an undercover operation that had successfully sneaked deep inside Lashkar ranks. Mukhtar Ahmed—a ‘follower’ in District Special Branch of J-K police in Srinagar district—had been deputed for an undercover operation.
Sources reveal that the modus operandi was simple: he had managed to sneak inside the Lashkar ranks and become one of their trust-worthy aides. It is learnt that a Lashkar operative needed SIM cards for their men and sought Ahmed’s help, who contacted Tausif Rehman based in Kolkata. And when the police found out that a SIM card recovered from a Mumbai attack site was one of the 22 Rehman sold to Ahmed, they immediately arrested both.
A sub-inspector of J&K Police, sources say, was also with Ahmed when he was arrested. The sub-inspector, however, was released later last evening. Ahmed—a resident of Rang Parestan, Rainawari in Srinagar—had been appointed a follower in the police after his brother was killed by the militants. He was later promoted as a constable after he did “exemplary work” in counter-insurgency. It is not known how and where Ahmed handed over the SIM card to the Lashkar men.
The J&K Police are tightlipped about the entire issue because there is apprehension of “compromising” other similar operations. It is not known whether any government agency actually managed to get active intelligence inputs based on the surveillance of these SIM cards. Sources reveal that the J&K police had communicated the details of the SIM cards to “concerned people” for keeping a watch too.
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Such operations are, in fact, the backbone of J&K Police’s counter-insurgency effort where the human intelligence and the technical intelligence—generated through phone interceptions etc—are put together to foil militant attacks through pre-emptive action.
In fact, the sea route infiltration of militants was not a surprise in J&K. In March last year, seven militants had sneaked in from Karachi through sea and bribed Coast Guard officials after being intercepted well within Indian waters near Mumbai. The group of five Pakistani militants ¿ who were finally nabbed while entering Kashmir Valley ¿ are still lodged in a police station in South Kashmir. “These men were intercepted as they were on their way to Kashmir,” a source told The Indian Express.
Sources reveal that their movement had been under a strict watch right all across their journey from Karachi but J&K police arrested them only after they entered the state. The reason for the delay in the interception, sources reveal, was to avoid compromising the undercover police handler here. Sources reveal that the entire modus operandi used by the militants to infiltrate through the sea was communicated to the government and even Maharashtra was informed.
In a similar incident, two Pakistani militants were arrested by J&K Police at Patrari Bridge in Manjakote, Rajouri on March 10, 2007, who too had infiltrated through the sea route. Identified as Abdul Majeed of Nawabshah, Sindh and Mohammad Jameel of Mansera, Pakistan, these two militants had told the J&K police investigators that they had taken a private boat from Karachi in the last week of February, 2008 for Mumbai and were intercepted by the sleuths of the Coast Guard inside the Indian waters but managed to escape an arrest after paying a “hefty sum as bribe”. The group stayed in Mumbai for several days, then travelled to New Delhi on a train and finally took a bus to Chandigarh where they stayed in a hotel.
The two Pakistani militants, Majeed and Jameel had been accompanied by local handlers from Mumbai till they had reached Chandigarh where two militants from J&K finally came to pick them up. The police had also arrested their two local contacts, who belonged to Sangiot, Mendhar in J&K. The locals were identified as Feroz Mohammad, a former Army jawan of 2 JAK Li and Mohammad Taj, both residents of Sangiot, Mendhar. In fact, sources reveal that the J&K police had immediately informed the Centre and also their counterparts in Maharashtra regarding these serious incidents.
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