PhD scholar was affiliated to Jammat’s student wing: Sinha

IGP Jammu MK Sinha addressing a press conference in Jammu on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
IGP Jammu MK Sinha addressing a press conference in Jammu on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

‘HM, JeM behind Banihal attack’
Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Apr 29: Police today said PhD scholar in Central University of Bathinda in Punjab, who was recently arrested by Jammu cops for failed terror attack on CRPF convoy in Banihal on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway on March 30, was affiliated with proscribed Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) student wing, Jamaat-ul-Tulba (JuT).
“The terror attack had been planned jointly by Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfits,” Inspector General of Police (IGP), Jammu Zone, MK Sinha told reporters this evening.
Excelsior had exclusively reported the arrest of PhD scholar and five other militants from South Kashmir by the police in connection with unsuccessful attempt by the militants to repeat Pulwama like attack at Banihal on March 30.
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Sinha said the militant outfits had selected fresh recruits for repeating Pulwama like attack at Banihal to avoid doubts on them by security agencies.
The Jammu Police chief said Munna Bihari, a Pakistani militant, Raees Ahmad, Shah Jahan and Tahir Abdullah, all top militants of JeM and HM had masterminded the attack and were at large though a hunt was on to nab them.
Hilal Mantoo, a PhD scholar was ‘rukun’ (members) of Jamaat-ul-Tulba, a student wing of banned Jamaat-e-Islami.
A day before, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had handed over failed Banihal terror attack case to the National Investigating Agency (NIA) as it had been planned on the lines of February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 44 CRPF personnel were martyred, which was already being investigated by the NIA.
Sinha said the suicide bomber, who had attempted to ram Santro car into the CRPF convoy at Banihal, was arrested by the police the very next day and was identified as Owais Amin son of Mohammad Amin R/o Vehil, Shopian.
During interrogation, Amin confessed that he belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit and was on suicide mission to target the CRPF convoy. However, he had failed in executing the task as he triggered the blast just short of the CRPF convoy. The car was burnt while there were no casualties or damage of para-military in the blast.
Five other militants arrested later in the case included Hillal Mantu son of Ghulam Rasool Mantoo R/o Chakora, Pulwama, a PhD scholar in Central University Bathinda, Umar Shafi son of Mohammad Shafi, Aqib Shah son of Mohammad Shafi Shah, both residents of Vehil, Shopian, Shahid Wani alias Watson son of Mohammad Ayub Wani R/o Kinhama, Shopian and Wasim Ahmad Dar alias Doctor son of Abdul Majeed Dar R/o Chakora, Pulwama.
Sinha said the case has been completely worked out with the arrests.
Mantu’s interrogation revealed that Jammat-e-Talaba was radicalizing the youth in a big way for “jehad” (holy war), Sinha said.
He said National Investigation agency is taking over the case tomorrow for further investigation, though the police had completely worked the attack.
“We have almost cracked the case completely and six persons including the suicide bomber have been arrested. Two modules of Hizbul Mujahideen, one led by Dr Saifullah of Pulwama and the other led by Rayees Khan alias “Imad Khan” of Shopian jointly worked on this car bomb fabrication and various other things related to the explosion,” Sinha said.
He said there has been an active collaboration in this by JeM and the mastermind behind the fabrication of the IED inside the car is a Pakistani terrorist Munna Bihari, who is operating in South Kashmir, along with local JeM terrorist Shah Jahan.
The IGP, however, said there was no link between the February 14 Pulwama car bomb attack and the Banihal attack.
“Involvement of Pakistan in Banihal attack cannot be ruled out,” he said adding the entire module led by Hizbul chief in the valley Riyaz Naikoo and Saifullah were involved in the attack along with Pakistani terrorist of JeM Munna Bihari and who directed them to carry out such an attack was not exactly known.
“We have got certain reports like chassis number and engine number of the vehicle used in the attack as these were tempered and nothing was matching. We have sent it to FSL and they are trying to retrieve the original numbers. Where from the gelatin sticks were procured is part of the investigations,” he said.
“The youth are taken into JuT (Jammat-ul-Tulaba) after careful screening and once inducted given an extremely hard-line religious orientation and made to indulge in various activities including terror operations,” Sinha said.
“Mantoo, who is PhD student doing some research on anxiety among the students, is an example as he was actively involved in the fabrication of the IED inside the car, which he has revealed during his interrogation,” the IGP said.
He said the radicalization is a major threat because a radicalized youth can do anything and indulge in violent acts.
He said the group that was involved in the fabrication of the IED, procuring gelatin sticks, Urea, Acids and other material had done it under the overall command of the Pakistani terrorist.
“Amin along with his friend Omar and Aqib were working as Over Ground Workers of Rayees Khan who became active terrorist of Hizbul Mujahideen in 2018. All four of them, post the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani phase, were involved in stone pelting. The selection of these terrorists, who were involved in this entire explosion, has a clean slate as none of them have any FIRs registered against them,” the IGP said.
He said it was very cleverly done that those who were off the radar were actually picked up to carry out the attack.
In March, Amin was told by Omar to prepare himself for a major mission. Thereafter, planning and entire conspiracy was hatched in Shopian.
“Owais is a student of BBA and Omar a student BCA in Srinagar and were called to Shopian where Shahid alias Watson facilitated their meeting,” he said adding the IED was fabricated in an apple orchard at a place called Turkwangam in Shopian.
“Amin was convinced for a fidayeen attack and he agreed. He was motivated by Riyaz Naikoo (Hizbul chief) himself and a meeting was arranged between the two but was asked not to question him and only take his orders.
He said the car bomb was fabricated between March 15 to 25 and Aqib led this boy to Qazigund and Ramsoo and returned to Banihal.
“Amin unsuccessfully tried to carry out the attack on March 26 on the highway but did not get the opportunity to penetrate the convoy in Qazigund because of the Road Opening Party of the security forces.
“On March 27, he again tried but the IED developed some snag and did not explode. Through a video call to Rayees, he was directed to park the vehicle at Banihal and somebody will come to repair it. Two boys – Waseem and Sahil Abdullah who joined Hizbul Mujahideen and are absconding carried out the repair work,” Sinha said.
After repairing the IED on March 28, he was ready but since there was no convoy and so the militant didn’t get his target, he said.
Sinha said he managed to penetrate into a CRPF convoy which was moving from Srinagar to Jammu on March 30 but the IED fortunately did not explode the way it was supposed to and exploded only partially.
“Amin was not prepared for this eventuality as he was prepared to die in the attack. After the minor explosion inside the car, he had turned deaf but jumped out of the car through damaged window panes and took shelter in an abandoned cowshed before he was arrested later while fleeing towards Kashmir,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sinha said the group behind the recent killings in Kishtwar has been identified and efforts are on to bring the culprits to book.
RSS leader Chandrakant Sharma and his security guard were killed by a militant inside the district hospital on April 9, while State secretary of BJP, Anil Parihar, and his brother Ajeet Parihar were killed in the town on November 1 last year.
“We have identified the group behind the killings. The vehicle used in the latest killing was purchased by one Zahid but he had joined the militant ranks and is moving around with Osama,” Sinha said.
Osama is one of the seven terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) active in Kishtwar district.
“Where from the militants came and went after the recent attack has been worked out. We are aware how they carried out the killing but are not able to locate them yet and we are working on that,” the IGP Jammu said.
Police teams, which worked out failed terror attack in Banihal comprised SP Operations Jammu, Sandeep Mehta, Additional SP Ramban, Sanjay Parihar, SDPO Banihal Sajjad Sarwar, DySP Operations Jammu, Iftikhar Chaudhary, SHO Pacca Danga, Karan Chalotra, SHO Banihal Inspector Ijaz Ahmad Wani, Inspector Pankaj Sharma, Sub Inspector Deepak Katoch, SI Vijay Sharma, ASI Mohammad Shafiq and Selection Grade Constable, Fayaz Ahmad and Praveen Sharma. They worked under the supervision of IGP Jammu MK Sinha and DIG Doda Range, Bhim Sen Tuti.