NIA arrests two from Kashmir for ‘links’ with Pulwama suspect

Deeptiman Tiwary
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NIA investigations have revealed that Khan may have some involvement in the Pulwama attack. (File)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday arrested two youths from Kashmir on suspicion of their involvement with a suspect being probed for his alleged connections with the attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14.

The agency took into custody Tanveer alias Tanveer Ahmad Ganie, 29, and Bilal Mir alias Bilal Ahmad Mir, 23, for allegedly being in touch with arrested accused Sajjad Ahmed Khan, who is suspected to have had knowledge of the Pulwama attack. According to NIA, both are members of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

"Investigation has disclosed that earlier arrested accused Sajjad Ahmad was in regular contact with these accused over WhatsApp during the relevant period. Tanveer and Bilal were brought from Kot Bhalwal Jail, Jammu, where they have been detained under Public Safety Act, and produced before the NIA Special Court today against a production warrant. The NIA court has granted seven days of NIA custody of the two accused persons," a statement by the agency said.

Khan, along with Tanveer and Bilal, have been arraigned as accused in a separate FIR. "This case pertains to a criminal conspiracy by top leadership of JeM based in Pakistan to strengthen bases of JeM in India, by recruiting persons for carrying out terrorist acts in India," the NIA said.

NIA investigations have revealed that Khan may have some involvement in the Pulwama attack. An analysis of his call data records and social media exchanges has shown that he had conversation with slain JeM militant Mudassir Ahmed Khan just before and after the Pulwama attack, according to the probe. Mudassir, killed in an encounter on March 12, is being touted as among the key planners of the Pulwama attack.

"During interrogation he was confronted with evidence of his communication with Mudassir. He has given an explanation about the messages exchanged and conversations to prove his innocence….But the timing of these communications and other evidence indicates that he may be closely linked to the attack," an NIA officer said.

Khan was apprehended by Delhi Police Special Cell on March 21. Following his apprehension, DCP (Special Cell) Pramod Singh Kushwah had claimed that "Mudassir had contacted the accused over WhatsApp informing that the Pulwama attack was carried out" and "also sent a video of the suicide bomber, which was later deleted by the accused". The DCP also claimed that Khan was tasked with recruiting youths for JeM in Uttar Pradesh and other states.