Pakistani involvement in India resurfaced on Tuesday with the police announcing the arrest of three alleged terrorists, including a sepoy in the Pakistani army, in Jammu on December 21, all trained at a Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) camp in run by Mufti Abdul Rauf, the brother of the terror group's founder, Maulana Masood Azhar.
Azhar had been incarcerated in a Jammu jail for five years before he was let off in December 1999 in exchange for hostages on an Indian Airlines flight hijacked to Kandahar. Azhar is one of India’s most wanted men; his custody has been demanded from Pakistan after the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.
Director-General of Police Kuldeep Khoda said the three captured men planned to set off a massive explosion on the lines of the truck bomb that destroyed the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on September 20.
With the three men confessing that they were trained at a camp near Rawalpindi in Pakistani Punjab, the arrests, police said, had provided “clinching evidence” that terror training camps still operate in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while leaving Parliament: “The issue is terrorism and the territory in Pakistan being used to promote, aid and abet terrorism. No one wants a war.”
“After their training, the terrorists went to Dhaka from Karachi, finally crossing over into West Bengal," said Khoda. "They took a train from Kolkata to Jammu.”
Gulam Fareed, from Ruperi village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s (PoK’s) Bhimber district, was identified as the Pakistani soldier (Belt No 4319184, 10 Azad Kashmir Regiment). Before joining the army in 2001, he was a member of the Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami, another terror outfit, moving to the Jaish in 2007.
Khoda said the other two terrorists were identified as Mohammad Abdullah, from Serian village in North West Frontier Province’s Haripur district, and Mohammad Imran, of Dera Nawab in Pakistani Punjab’s Bahawalpur district.
Imran, said Khoda, joined the Jaish in 2005, followed by Abdullah a year later. “One of them was trained to carry out a suicide attack by ramming an explosives-laden vehicle into a target.”
Khoda said the trio was ordered in August to report to the Jaish’s Karachi office, located next to the Muleer army cantonment. They were provided air tickets and visas for Bangladesh by Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) operatives identified as Hamzala and Osama.
“They arrived in Bangladesh on September 15 and were received by another ISI operative identified as Nadeem,” said Khoda.
He said the trio stayed in Khulana for about three months.
“On December 15, the terrorists began their journey to India. They crossed over into India on December 18 and boarded the Jammu Tawi Express from Malda,” said Khoda.
On reaching Jammu on December 20, they initially stayed in a hotel near the station but later shifted to one near the bus stand. Fareed got himself registered as Gulshan Kumar, Abdullah as Akhilesh Parsad and Imran as Inder Kumar. All three gave Delhi addresses.
The police had been receiving inputs about a possible attack and on December 21 teams of the Special Operations Group and a Central Reserve Police Force nabbed the trio from their hotel room.
Khoda said they were supposed to get a consignment of arms and the location of their target from a local guide. The guide was to have been in Jammu too but was delayed because the national highway was blocked.
Khoda said the police were still trying to find out whether the trio had met Azhar, but did manage to confirm that a vast terror network is operating in Bangladesh and PoK under the guidance of Pakistan.