All the 23 sim cards sourced by Mukhtar Ahmed Sheikh, a Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police constable now arrested by the Kolkata police, were under surveillance of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
“How do you think otherwise? The IB was recording each and every conversation the terrorists were having (with their handlers) during the (November 26) attack?” a top J&K police official told HT on Monday.
Sheikh was arrested on Friday night by the Kolkata police for supplying the sim cards to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba from a contact in Kolkata. And his arrest has abruptly ended a covert counter-insurgency operation launched by the J&K police an year ago.
“We should have been asked (before making the arrest). Now, not only he (Sheikh) has been compromised, the contacts which he had made (in LeT) will also be identified and weeded out,” the officer said.
The Kolkata police’s special additional commissioner, Rajeev Kumar, however, refused to comment when HT contacted him.
According to an IB officer, by arresting Sheikh the police had “exposed the Kashmir police’s operation and had squandered away the gains that were being obtained from their operation”.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said: “Our team is still in Kolkata to interrogate Mukhtar. We have not reached any definite conclusion on this, it would get clear soon.”
Intelligence sources said three of the SIM cards procured by Sheikh through his Kolkata aide, Tausif Rehman, had been allegedly forwarded by his “sources” to a Lashkar operative based in Kashmir — he, in turn, passed it on to his Pakistani mentors.
“One of the SIM cards allegedly purchased by Mukhtar and Tausif was recovered from one of the 10 Lashkar suicide attackers involved in the Mumbai attacks,” confirmed Additional Commissioner of police (Crime) Deven Bharti.
Investigations have revealed that the sim cards were purchased from the Park Street area in Kolkata, and from two other districts in the state.