LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh police are piecing together information about Sandeep Sharma alias Adil, the young man from Muzaffarnagar who was arrested in Kashmir for links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on Sunday. Family accounts say he left his Nai Mandi locality five years ago in search of work in Punjab and ended up in Kashmir.
Police said he was apparently recruited by the militant outfit for his expertise in cracking ATMs and carried out three terror strikes in June this year in South Kashmir including one on June 16 in which six policemen were killed.
After Sharma’s arrest was announced, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the UP police despatched a posse to Kashmir late on Sunday to interrogate the man. Inspector-general (ATS) Asim Arun said his staff are trying to find out what attracted him to LeT. Another team of ATS sleuths has gone to Muzaffarnagar to probe the man’s local connections.
The UP cops have detained Sandeep Sharma’s sister-in-law (elder brother’s wife), mother and some friends in Muzaffarnagar for quizzing. Sharma’s elder brother Pravin Sharma, a taxi driver in Hardwar, said Sandeep used to be in touch with the family every now and then but snapped all contact one and a half year ago. “We don’t really know where he is and what he is doing,” Pravin said.
According to the senior superintendent of police of Muzaffarnagar, Anant Deo, Sandeep’s relatives only knew that he used to work with a construction contractor in Jammu earning Rs 12,000 per month.
Brother Pravin said that if Sandeep was found to be involved in an anti-social activity, he should be punished.
"We don’t have any objection. We are law abiding citizens and have no ties with anti-national elements."
Pravin, however, added that Sandeep had no criminal record before leaving home. However, Aseem Arun differs. "Sandeep was known for his expertise in ATM looting. He uproots ATMs to loot cash," he said, adding that he is suspected of playing a role in a number of terror incidents this year including the lynching of Kashmir police officer Feroz Ahmed Dar.
Sandeep is said to have gone to Patiala in search of a job in 2011. He started off as a welder and came in contact with a Kashmiri contractor named Shahid Ahmed of Kulgam. He used to go to the valley during summers to make extra money.
Later, the two took to crime, particularly ATM and bank robberies in association with Kashmiri criminals Muneeb Shah, Shahid Ahmed and Muzaffar Ahmed. They came in contact with a terror suspect Shakoor Ahmed and were introduced to Basheer Lashkari of LeT (who was recently killed in an encounter with security forces).
Pravin said Sandeep allegedly converted to Islam some two and a half years ago but police said this is yet to be established.