Mohammed Shareif Makhandeep Thakkar, one of the two suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives arrested last month from Thane, has reportedly told his interrogators that he had joined the terror outfit not just for money but to also benefit his village.
The 33-year-old has reportedly told the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that he decided to join the LeT because he was not making a lot of money by driving oil tankers.
"His friends, who were militants, had told him that he could earn more by joining them and so he joined the terror outfit," an ATS officer said on condition of anonymity.
Moreover, the officer added, Shareif said this would also benefit his village in Kashmir because if he carried out any terror act in his village Gokhrot in Rajouri district or in its vicinity, the Army would have had to move in.
"Once the military would have moved in, it would have built roads and provided other facilities, such as setting up health camps, in the village," Shareif reportedly told the investigators.
When the Army sets up camp, it also provides small-time jobs to locals and, at times, also distributes free food and other material, which would have benefited his village, he added.
Sharief and his accomplice, Mohammed Isaac Mohammed Rashid Kumlakh, had been arrested with two pistols and 11 cartridges on November 15. After interrogation, the ATS had booked them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The ATS claimed that two suspected LeT operatives had conducted a reconnaissance of military installations in Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad, and had been asked to recruit oil tanker drivers who knew the roads and oil installations in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Investigations have revealed that some of the power plants, refineries and even the Mumbai Central station were on their target list.
The ATS said that Shareif's claims that he had joined the LeT to help his village will neither affect their investigation, nor divert their focus.
"We have prevented a major act of terror by nabbing him and his associate as they had access to some very important installations in the country," the ATS officer added.