With a Kashmir at peace not to their liking, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba is planning major terror attacks in the state and elsewhere in India, Abu Jundal, one of the arrested handlers of the 2008 Mumbai attackers, has revealed to his interrogators.
Jundal, believed to be "a mine of information" on the Lashkar and its anti-India plans, also told his interrogators that the group was planning to push hundreds of trained gunmen and weapons into Kashmir.
"The group wants to revive militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly make its presence felt in urban areas," a reliable source privy to his interrogation details told IANS.
The source said that Jundal, believed to the highest ranking Indian in the terror outfit, had stayed for some time in Pakistan-administered Kashmir before and after the Mumbai attack and became close to the Kashmiri militant leadership in Muzaffarabad.
He told his interrogators that the United Jehad Council (UJC), an amalgam of terror groups that operates out of Muzaffarabad, was making elaborate plans to push fresh groups of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir through non-traditional routes along the Line of Control (LoC) - a de facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Jundal, deported to India from Saudi Arabia last month, has revealed that these groups were planning to enter Kashmir through Poonch and Rajouri in the Jammu region.
These militants, as per the Lashkar plans, will then be sent to different parts of India where they will target places of worship and other crowded spots.
"Peace in Kashmir has in particular upset the Lashkar. The Lashkar leadership has asked the UJC commander (Syed Salahuddin who also heads the Hizbul Mujahideen) to pull up its socks," the source quoted Jundal as saying.
"They (militants) are planning big strikes in Kashmir," the source added, citing Jundal's interrogation.
Sources in Jammu and Kashmir Police told IANS that the information had been shared with them.
Subsequently, security has been beefed up, particularly for the hundreds of thousands of Hindus visiting the Amarnath cave temple near the south Kashmir tourist resort Pahalgam.
Kashmir Police sources said two recent militant strikes in south Kashmir in which a soldier and two policemen were killed may be part of the latest Lashkar strategy.
Jundal, who is being questioned at the heavily guarded Special Cell office of Delhi Police, has told his interrogators that it was actually a Kashmiri Lashkar commander who got him into the group.
Aslam Kashmiri, a known militant commander in the custody of Delhi Police after his arrest in 2009, met Jundal in Beed district of Maharahstra in 2005 through another Lashkar militant, Fayaz Kagzi.
Kashmiri, the sources said, had been given the job of recruiting into the outfit young Indian Muslims who could be radicalised.
They said Jundal was an easy target for Kashmiri because he was highly sentimental and was mesmerised by his jehadi talk.