Hindu from UP arrested for terrorist links in Kashmir; involvement of non-locals a first, says IG

Sandeep was nabbed from the same house where Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Bashir Lashkari was killed on July 1. His arrest points to blurring lines between criminality and terrorism, says IGP Munir Khan

Published: 10th July 2017 12:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th July 2017 08:40 PM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

SRINAGAR: In a first such instance, police in Jammu and Kashmir have arrested a Hindu resident of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh for links to militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba and accused him of being involved in many militant attacks, snatching of weapons and bank robberies in the Valley.

“A Lashkar module in south Kashmir was busted by police by arresting two militants,” Inspector General of Police-Kashmir, Munir Khan, told reporters, here.

The arrested militants were identified as Sandeep Kumar Sharma alias Adil of Muzaffarnagar, UP and Muneeb Shah of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

The IGP revealed that Sandeep was a close aide of LeT top commander Bashir Lashkari, who was killed in an encounter with security forces at Brinty Dialgam area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 1.

The arrest of Sandeep Sharma, who was used frequently by the Lashkar e-Taiba, points to the blurring lines between criminality and terrorism, IGP Munir Khan said.

He said Sandeep was among the people rescued from the house, where the militants were holed-up.

"We were surprised to see a non-local in the same house where Lashkari was taking shelter," said IGP Munir Khan.

“His presence in the house, where top LeT commander was hiding raised suspicion on his activities. During questioning, he confessed his association with LeT and his involvement in bank robberies in the Valley,” the IGP said.

He said on Sandeep’s disclosure, an LeT militant Muneeb Shah of Kulgam was arrested.

The IGP said some of Sandeep’s associates (valley based) came from Patiala in Punjab to Kashmir to carry out criminal activities. “The group stayed at Wanpoh in south Kashmir and got involved in different kinds of robberies including ATM looting. In these crimes, they worked in conjunction with the Lashkar”.

The IGP said the involvement of non-locals in militancy was a new scenario, which they may have to deal with in the coming days.

“We will investigate all non-local labourers in the Valley. We will have to go for in-depth verification of all non local labourers in the Valley,” he added.

Thousands of non-locals, mostly from UP and Bihar, every year visit Kashmir to work as labourers.

Giving further details, the IGP said Sandeep had come to Kashmir in 2012 and worked as a welder here in the summers. “In winters, he would go outside the valley, especially to Patiala. In Patiala, he came in contact with one Shahid Ahmad of Kulgam and conspired to commit criminal activities.”

Sandeep told his interrogators that he got involved with the Lashkar in January this year after getting in touch with a militant associated with the outfit, Shakoor Ahmad. “They conducted some bank robberies.

According to Khan, Sandeep and some of his associates were arrested by police at PP Mir Bazar, Anantnag in a robbery case in March this year and remained in judicial custody until he was bailed out.

Over a dozen bank robberies have taken place in Valley after demonetisation in November last year. Majority of the robberies took place in south Kashmir and police blamed militants for the crimes, saying the militant groups were facing shortage of money due to scrapping of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Shedding light on the militant links of Sandeep, the IGP said he and other persons were providing shelter, ferrying militants for carrying out militant strikes and actively participating in militant activities.

“He has confessed that on directions from LeT top commanders, he and his associates received Lashkar militants and dropped them at different sites for militant attacks in South Kashmir,” he said adding, “Sandeep also confessed that he had concealed weapons looted from the police and shifted them to different locations on the directions of the LeT”.

The IGP disclosed that Sandeep’s involvement had been established in three incidents in June: an attack on the army convoy at Lower Munda, Qazigund on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in south Kashmir on June 3 in which two soldiers were killed and four others injured; a incident  on June 13 in which weapons were snatched from police guards deployed at the residence of a retired judge at Anchidora area in Anantnag district; and in the June 16 attack on a police party in Achabal in Anantnag in which six policemen, including an SHO were killed, and their weapons snatched.

Besides, Sandeep and his associates were involved in looting of at least five banks and ATMs in south Kashmir, Khan said.

The IGP said the involvement of non-locals in militancy was a new scenario, which they may have to deal with in the coming days.

“We will investigate all non-local labourers in the Valley. We will have to go for in-depth verification of all non local labourers in the Valley,” he added.

Thousands of non-locals, mostly from UP and Bihar, every year visit Kashmir to work as labourers.

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