(Attn Eds: Updating with more information) Srinagar/Muzaffarnagar, July 10 (PTI) A man from Uttar Pradesh has been arrested for working with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and actively participating in terror activities in Kashmir, including the recent killing of six cops, the police said today, making a startling revelation.
Sandeep Kumar Sharma alias Adil, a resident of Muzaffarnagar, was a part of LeT module busted by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, a top police official said.
A local militant Muneeb Shah, resident of Kulgam in Kashmir, was also arrested.
According to Khan, it was the first case of a non-local being found associated with LeT.
“We have busted a module involved in a series of sensational crimes, including terror crimes, in south Kashmir.
Two individuals, Sandeep Kumar Sharma alias Adil, a resident of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, and Muneeb Shah, a resident of Kulgam in south Kashmir, have been arrested,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Munir Khan told reporters.
Sandeep, an expert in looting, was involved in criminal and militant activities and became a “hardcore terrorist in the sense that he accompanied LeT terrorists in three actions”, he said.
The arrest of Sandeep, basically a welder, points to the blurring lines between criminality and terrorism, Khan said.
The IGP revealed that Sandeep was nabbed from the house where LeT commander Bashir Lashkari was killed in an encounter on July 1. His arrest led to Shah being caught.
“We apprehended Sandeep during the encounter in which notorious militant Lashkari was eliminated. It raised the fingers of suspicion. We were surprised to see a non-local sitting in the same house where Lashkari was taking shelter, so we decided to go further,” the police officer said.
Giving details, Khan said Sandeep was involved in an attack on a police party in Achabal in south Kashmir on June 16 in which SHO Feroze Dar and five other policemen were killed and their faces disfigured.
Sandeep was also involved in the June 3 ambush on an army convoy in lower Munda in which a jawan was killed and also in the snatching of weapons from retired Justice Muzaffar Attar’s guard in Anantnag, the IGP said.
“In all these actions, Sandeep was present and participating,” Khan said.
According to sources, Sandeep had not converted to Islam but was using both the Hindu and Muslim identities according to his convenience.
Some new things as far militancy in Kashmir is concerned have come to the surface during investigations into the looting of banks and ATMs, Khan said.
“Investigations have revealed the angle of criminals who are involved in militancy and how they are being used by militant outfit LeT. How they are plundering and looting banks and ATMs and funding militant outfits as well as themselves,” the IGP said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police informed its counterparts in Uttar Pradesh from where teams of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) were rushed to Kashmir as well as Muzaffarnagar.
In Muzaffarnagar, SSP Anant Dev told PTI that the police raided the rented house of Sandeep in Ankit Vihar locality and took his mother Premvati and sister-in-law Rekha into custody for questioning.
A police team also rushed to Haridwar to interrogate Sandeep’s brother who is a taxi driver there.
The family was living in the rented accommodation as they had sold off their parental house due to some economic problems.
The Kashmir IGP said the probe revealed that Sandeep had come to the valley in 2012 and worked as a welder in the Valley in the summers. In the winters, he would go outside Kashmir, especially to Patiala.
“While working in Punjab, he came in contact with one Shahid Ahmad, a resident of Kulgam, who was also working in Punjab. In January this year, he came to the valley and planned to loot ATMs and other robberies in south Kashmir.” Four people — Sandeep, Muneeb Shah, Shahid Ahmad and Muzaffar Ahmad — stayed in a rented accommodation in Kulgam for carrying out criminal activities.
It was here that they met hardcore LeT terrorist Shakoor Ahmad, the IGP disclosed.
“That was the beginning of all these criminal activities. The militants utilized the services of Sandeep for looting ATMs and the booty was shared,” he added.
Sandeep was an expert in looting and had been arrested with some other associates in a robbery case in March this year at Mir Bazar, Khan said, adding he remained in judicial custody till he was bailed out.
“Investigations are going on and a number of arrests are in the offing,” he said.
Asked whether this was a first case of its kind in the valley, the IGP said, “In my knowledge, yes it is the first such case.”
He went on to add, “Criminal elements are joining the militancy. Lashker has become an outfit of criminals Militants are criminals.”
Asked about the possibility of involvement of more non- locals in militancy in the valley, he said police would verify all non-local labourers.
“Seeing this scenario, I have to investigate and get the verifications done of all the non-locals who are working in the valley in different capacities.”
He described the “new scenario” as a challenge for the police.
“Certainly it is a challenge because it is a new scenario which we have to deal with in the coming days because we have to be careful now of all the workers who come to Kashmir from different parts of India as in most of the cases the character and the antecedents are not known. We have to go for in-depth verifications of all of them,” he said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.