Three Pakistan nationals, belonging to terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), were on Friday arrested after an encounter but police refused to confirm or deny whether Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was their target for a kidnap plan.
The arrested persons identified as Mohammad Abid alias Faate, Usuf alias Faisal and Mirza Rashid Baig had all been trained in Pakisatan, UP Director General of Police Vikram Singh told a press conference.
The three had been trained to kidnap a leading Uttar Pradesh-based politician to create terror in the country and exert pressure for getting freed 42 dreaded terrorists lodged in various jails, he said.
Asked whether anyone in the Gandhi family was their target, Singh said he would neither confirm nor deny because investigations were yet to be done.
Shailja Kant Mishra, Additional DGP, Special Task Force, which arrested the three after an encounter on Delhi-Lucknow road, also said he cannot confirm whether Rahul Gandhi, who was here during the week, was their target.
They had nefarious designs and if they had succeeded, it would have brought in disaster, he said. Mishra said they were Pakistan nationals trained in terror camps in Afghanistan and Muzaffarabad and Balakote in Pakistan. They had planned to kidnap "somebody" and nail him down so that they could negotiate for release of arrested people.
Singh said the trio had planned to get employment in the office of some political party for a couple of months to get acquainted with the people and surroundings and carry out their operation thereafter.
Two AK-47 rifles and four magazines, 120 cartridges of AK-47, three Chinese pistols, 101 live and 15 used cartridges of 30 bore, four kg RDX, five detonators and 16 Chinese grenades were recovered from their possession.
During preliminary interrogation, it was found that the terrorists were trained in Bahawalpur for six months to kidnap or take as hostage a leading political leader to create disturbances in the country and mount pressure for getting their 42 associates in various Indian jails freed.
They have also been trained for a week on how to keep their hostage and call two BBC journalists for negotiating with the Indian government, the DGP said adding through them they planned to put forward their demands for handing over one of the accused in the Kandahar hijacking case, Yusuf Nepali, to his family besides including certain people in negotiations to resolve the Kashmir issue.
The trio was also shown video clippings of VVIP's public meetings and their movement on laptops. While Mohammad Abid had been trained in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2006 in Muzaffarabad (PoK), Usuf had undergone training in Balakote in 2007 and Mirza Rashid Beg had been trained in Afghanistan in 2000, the DGP said. Police also released the list of 42 terrorists they aimed to get released.