Talib made attempt to take cover to carry forward activities: DGP

Case may go to NIA or SIA: Sources

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, July 4: Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh today said Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant Talib Hussain Shah was briefly associated with a political party and also posed himself as a media person. However, he said such type of elements would continue to make attempts to take cover anywhere to carry forward their anti-national activities but police is duty bound to arrest them.
The DGP was interacting with media persons in Mahore area of Reasi district, where he had gone to appreciate the villagers who helped police in arresting two most-wanted LeT militants – Shah, a mastermind behind the recent series of explosions in Rajouri, and his Kashmiri associate Faisal Ahmad Dar of Pulwama.
Additional DGP Jammu Mukesh Singh, DIG Udhampur-Reasi range Suleman Choudhary and SSP Reasi Amit Gupta accompanied the DGP.
The two militants were overpowered by the villagers of remote Tukson Dhok early yesterday and later handed over to police. Two AK assault rifles, a pistol, seven grenades and a large quantity of ammunition were recovered from them.
Reliable sources told the Excelsior that Union Home Minister Amit Shah is reported to have discussed the issue with NIA chief Dinkar Gupta in New Delhi today and the case of Talib’s penetration into the BJP could be handed over to either NIA or SIA as there were reports that he could be part of large plan to target the BJP leaders and the party offices.
Some pictures emerged on social media purportedly showing Shah with BJP leaders. The BJP has denied that he was associated with the party now.
Responding to a question about Shah’s association with BJP, the DGP said “such elements always make attempts to take cover at such places where they can continue their (anti-national) activities. It is a matter of happiness that he did not remain in the party for a long time. He exit from there after a brief association.”
“He is being questioned and we will share details with you once his interrogation is complete,” he said when asked about Shah’s intention behind joining the Saffron party.
The DGP said the inimical elements try to outsmart the security arrangements. “It is not just a matter of political party. He (Shah) was also posing himself as a media person. He is not the first media person to be arrested as we have arrested many such people in the past and will be arrested in future as well.”
“They will try to take shelter and we are duty bound to identify and nab them,” the DGP said.
The Police chief, who announced a cash reward of Rs two lakhs for the villagers who overpowered the two militants before handing them over to police, said Pakistan and its agencies through terror groups are making repeated attempts to revive terrorism in Jammu province but “Jammu police have played an appreciable role in thwarting their attempts.”
“I have come to appreciate our young friends who have shown exemplary courage and took on the two heavily-armed terrorists with  bare hands, giving a clear cut message that we will not allow revival of terrorism,” the DGP said.
He said the people of remote areas have seen the brute face of terrorism when the militants used to forcibly intrude into their homes, take shelter and even exploit their women.
“The villagers have done a great job which is praise worthy. The people need to imitate them in elsewhere as well as these militants are shedding innocent blood at the behest of Pakistan and its agencies,” he said.
Referring to the militant attack on policeman Firdous Ahmad in Bijbehara area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Sunday, the DGP said the policeman challenged his attackers and escaped with two bullet injuries.
“The selective and target killings are part of the Pakistani conspiracy to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Jammu and Kashmir,” Dilbag said.
The DGP said the people of Kashmir are also fully cooperating with the police and other security forces, leading to successful anti-terrorist operations.
“People have always stood with us from the beginning (of eruption of terrorism). There are some black sheep in every community but mostly the people are with the establishment, with police and we are thankful to them,” he said.
Describing sticky bombs smuggled from Pakistan as a “grave threat”, Dilbag said adequate security arrangements are in place for the Amarnath yatra which is going on smoothly.
He also said around 150 militants are present on the launch pads across the border but security forces are fully alert and have thwarted their attempts to sneak into the Valley.
“All security related measures are in place for the Amarnath pilgrimage,” the police chief said.
“There is no connection between the (Amarnath) yatra and the arrest (of the duo). It is a big success as Shah was involved in a series of sticky bomb explosions in Rajouri,” Singh said.
He said Shah was part of efforts being made by LeT handlers in Pakistan to revive terrorism in Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban and Reasi and other parts of Jammu region.
“They earlier created a Gaznavi force group for Jammu province which was wiped out by police. The LeT handlers are using different names but all the elements are the same and they are making desperate attempts to recruit youngsters,” he said.
The DGP said Jammu police scuttled all their attempts to revive terrorism by busting their modules in Udhampur, Doda-Kishtwar belt and Poonch-Rajouri and since Shah is heading one such module, his questioning will solve many more cases.
“His arrest is a big achievement and people are equal partners in this success. The people overpowering the terrorists with bare hands is a good beginning,” he said.
The DGP said police had been chasing Shah ever since his name came up during investigation of the recent blasts in Rajouri.
“They were not getting a hideout and were moving aimlessly and ended up being overpowered by people. The action of the villagers is worth praise and so I have personally come to thank them,” he said.
On the number of militants on launch pads in Pakistan, he said the numbers hover around 150 and there were attempts by them to infiltrate into this side but they were tackled and neutralized either on the border or in the hinterland.
“The anti-terrorist operations will continue with border security grid being further beefed  up with the recruitment of 200 Special Police Officers in recently created border battalions,” he said.
He said the attempts to foment trouble in J&K from across the border have not lowered and “we are planning counter-measures accordingly.”
He said sticky bombs pose a “grave threat” but the police and other security agencies are alert to foil all conspiracies.
“The militants were able to set off sticky bombs at vegetable market in Udhampur (in March) and at two places in Rajouri (in April-May). Mostly police have recovered many such bombs and IEDs airdropped through drones (from Pakistan) before they could be used to hit a target,” he said.
Asked about the investigation in the Katra bus fire incident that left four passengers dead and 20 others injured in May, he said the investigation into the cause of the fire is on as “we are yet to reach any conclusion”.
Singh said the security deployments have been made for Amarnath yatra and “we are taking all necessary arrangements (to foil any attempt by terrorists to target the yatra with sticky bombs).”
Asked whether the villagers who overpowered the militants will be given a job in police, he said there is a system in place for the recruitment in police and other security forces.
“There are many people linked with us like Village Defence Committee members and Dhok Defence Committees who are doing great job in anti-terror operations,” he said.
Meanwhile, a militant hideout was busted in Rajouri district leading to the recovery of six sticky bombs along with other arms and ammunition.
The hideout was busted at the disclosure of LeT commander Talib Hussain Shah who along with his associate Faisal Ahmad Dar were overpowered by people and handed over to police in a remote village in Mahore tehsil of Reasi district yesterday.
Shah revealed the presence of a hideout in his Draj village of Rajouri during questioning and accordingly a raid was carried out and the hideout was busted.
The search of the hideout led to the recovery of six sticky bombs, a pistol, three pistol magazines, 19 pistol rounds, an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL), three UBGL grenades, 75 rounds of AK assault rifle and one IED remote with antenna.
Meanwhile, sources said NIA chief Dinkar Gupta today briefed Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Udaipur (Rajasthan) and Amravati (Maharashtra) killings. The NIA had taken over probe in both the killings as they were executed for supporting remarks of the suspended BJP leader amid indications that the killers might have international links.
Dinkar Gupta, who was in Kashmir for last two days on his first visit to J&K after taking over as head of the NIA, is understood to have discussed the arrest of Talib Hussain Shah in Mahore following his and his associate’s apprehension by the villagers.
While there was no official word, sources said the case of Talib Hussain might be probed by NIA or SIA to ascertain whether he had larger plans to target the BJP leaders and party offices in Jammu and Kashmir by penetrating into the party.