Nagrota attack: Arrested J&K terrorists got instructions from JeM chief in Pak

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) probe into arrest of three alleged terrorists revealed their involvement with Jaish-e-Mohammad commanders based in Pakistan.

Recently, the NIA had arrested Ashiq Baba of Aloochibagh locality in Srinagar, Tariq Ahmad Dar, a Pulwama-based timber dealer and a resident of Chillipura in Shopian district, and Syed Muneer-Ul-Hasan-Qadri of Kupwara for their alleged role in a militant attack on an army camp in Nagrota, Jammu, on November 29, 2016. The attack left seven soldiers dead.

Interrogation of the accused revealed that they were in regular touch with JeM commanders based in Pakistan. “They were in continuous contact through Whatsapp with Maulana Mufti Ashghar based at Muzaffarabad whose ‘bhanja’ (nephew) Waqas (JeM commander in South Kashmir) died in an encounter near Pulwama recently. Besides him, they were in touch with another commander Qari Zarar, who was in-charge of launching terrorists in Jammu region. Zarar is based out of Rawalpindi and Waseem and Abu Talha (both in charge of ‘Dett’ (launchpad) along the Jammu region),” said a senior NIA official.

NIA probe showed that to conduct attacks on the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, terrorist Ashiq Baba crossed the Wagah border four times (between 2015 to 2017) legally and visited Pakistan. “He obtained his VISAs after getting reference letters from Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Abdul Gani Bhat and Maulana Umar Farooq,” the official said.

During his visits, he met with JeM commanders and took directions from them after getting clearance from a local ISI agent. Upon his return to India, Baba received instructions on how and when to receive the group of terrorists. “Around a week prior to the attack, he and the other arrested terrorist, Muneer, were given the GPS coordinates of the receiving point along the Samba sector highway as well as of the possible targets along the Nagrota army cantonment through WhatsApp from their handlers in Pakistan. They were asked to recee these targets. Ashiq went with Muneer and finalised the receiving point and the target. The two were later joined by Tariq,” the official said.

Officers mess complex of 166 Medium Regiment at Nagrota was chosen due to its convenient location towards the end of the Cantonment. After finalisation, the points were passed on Whatsapp to the JeM commanders in Pakistan.

Modus Operandi

The official said that the trio received three attackers on November 28, 2016, at the decided location. They changed their clothes and travelled in two vehicles to Jammu after keeping their weapons concealed in the boot of one of the two cars owned by Tariq and Ashiq Baba. They parked the car with the weapons at a paid parking slot and then stayed at a hotel in Jammu. That very day, Ashiq took the commanders of the three other attackers, Abu Hisham, to Nagrota to show him the site of the attack and came back to the hotel.

“Later in the night, all six of them left for the attack site, dropped the three Pakistani attackers there and left for Srinagar. Ashiq baba and Muneer again received a group of three terrorists in March 2017 from the Samba sector and dropped them at Khrew near Pampore. This time the terrorists were received by Noor Trali (JeM commander who was subsequently killed in an encounter),” said the official.

Ashiq Baba then went to Pakistan in April/May 2017 and met Waseem, Abu Talha and Mufti Ashghar. He also met Maulana Rauf, brother of Maulana Masood Azhar and accused in the Pathankot attack case, at their headquarters at Bahawalpur. The JeM leadership promised to give him financial rewards for receiving more attackers in future.

Baba told the agency that the JeM leadership transferred funds in his private bank account. The money was sent from Gulf countries.

Shashank Shekhar

About Shashank Shekhar

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Shashank Shekhar works as a Deputy Editor for DB Post. He specialises in investigative, terrorism, internal security and policy-making related stories. He has an active interest in tracking cybercrime, financial fraud, technology, automobile and latest trends. He can be reached at: Follow him on Twitter @shashankrnq