The pre-paid SIM cards that militants in Kashmir use to talk to their handlers across the border were mostly issued in the name of genuine customers, albeit without their knowledge.
The state police recovered two such SIM cards from the slain militants in Lal Chowk on January 7, vindicating the Centre’s decision not to lift the pre-paid connection ban in the Valley.
What baffled investigators was that the militants left their swanky phones intact, although they destroy phones to avoid leaving any trail.
“We are probing the matter and can’t reveal more details at this point,” said Kashmir police chief Farooq Ahmad.
The retailer sold two connections (form numbers 89774398 and 89087182) of a national mobile service provider. Hindustan Times has access to the forms.
A highly placed police official said that of the two connections, the Lal Chowk militants used one to talk to their Pakistani handlers.
This connection was issued on July 9, 2009 against genuine identity papers of a Srinagar resident.
The police have arrested three persons for allegedly fudging the documents to provide the SIM cards to the militants and detained the retailer who sold the SIM cards and questioned some employees of the service provider to trace the original subscribers.
The police official said Abu Qari, one of the two militants killed in the operation, had kept the mobile connection active for a long time and finally used it during the Lal Chowk operation.
Although a small balance left in the pre-paid account forced Qari to depend on his Pakistani handlers, it kept the connection alive in spite of the ban imposed on new connections and recharging of old ones since November 1, 2009.
The government gave three months to pre-paid subscribers for using up the balance amounts.