February 2019 News

Kashmiri Youths: 'We Were In Touch With Pulwama Attack Mastermind

25 February 2019
Times of India
Pathikrit Chakraborty

Lucknow: The two Kashmiri youths arrested by the UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Deoband township in Saharanpur on Sunday confessed to their links with banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) and were possibly planning a terror strike. The two also admitted to have been in touch with Pulwama attack mastermind Abdul Rasheed Ghazi who was killed in an encounter with the security forces five days after the CRPF convoy was attacked on February 14. Investigators also claim to have obtained voice messages from the cellphone of one of the two youths-Shahnawaz Teli of Kulgam and Abdul Aqib Mallick of Pulwama-in which he is heard talking about some ' bada kaam' (something big) and ' samaan' (goods). Investigators said the conversation apparently relates to a major operation that the two were planning and ' samaan' was used for weapons or explosives. The two accused reportedly confessed to their links with the JeM during their interrogation + by director general of police (DGP) OP Singh, who spent four hours questioning them for a first-hand assessment of their involvement in terror activities. Thereafter, the UP Police chief exchanged information with his Jammu & Kashmir counterpart Dilbagh Singh. 'They have confessed to their links with JeM in front of me and have given some specific information based on which we are hopeful of some more recoveries in the near future,' DGP Singh told TOI. 'During interrogation, Shahnawaz said he had been in touch with terror outfits for 18 months while Aqib came into the scene six months ago,' said inspector general of police, ATS, Asim Arun. He said Shahnawaz has also admitted to have been in touch with Ghazi, who was killed on February 19. The duo also said they were contacted by some top commanders of JeM and joined the group on their insistence. 'Some chats retrieved from the mobile phones of the two have voice messages saying 'kuch karna hai jaldi' (have to do something soon). They also mention names of some places where weapons were possibly to be taken. But it is yet to be established,' said the IG. The two used to exchange messages through BBM and also used virtual numbers for talking to conceal the identity of those communicating. They will be taken to Kashmir where it is suspected they have hidden dummy grenades to train recruits. Shahnawaz has completed BA first year and a computer course, while Aqib has passed class XII. Shahnawaz's father is a carpenter and elder brother a teacher. Aqib's father is a farmer. The ATS will also interrogate other students who had stayed with the two.