Nagrota attack case accused got Pak visa on reference from Hurriyat leaders: NIA
The NIA also said that the 2016 Nagrota attack accused, Mohammad Ashiq Baba, had met key Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) commanders, including JeM chief Masood Azhar’s brother Rauf who was responsible for targeting the army camp, during one of his trips to Pakistan.Updated: Jun 07, 2018 23:47 IST
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) alleged on Thursday that a key accused arrested in connection with a 2016 attack on the Nagrota army camp in Jammu had gone to Pakistan four times between 2015 and 2017 on a visa procured with the help of reference letters from top separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Abdul Ghani Bhat and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
The NIA also said that the accused, Mohammad Ashiq Baba, had met key Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) commanders, including JeM chief Masood Azhar’s brother Rauf who was responsible for targeting the army camp, during one of his trips to Pakistan.
When asked if NIA planed to seek clarification from the separatist leaders about this development, an agency spokesman declined to comment but said, “the investigation is progressing well.”
Ashiq Baba was arrested on Tuesday, two days before home minister Rajnath Singh’s trip to Jammu and Kashmir at a time when a fresh moves are being made to talk to separatist Hurriyat leaders in the middle of a cessation of military operations during the holy month of Ramazan.
Geelani, Bhat and and Farooq did not respond to messages seeking comments.
The November 2016 attack on the Nagrota army camp had resulted in the death of seven Indian army men and three suicide attackers.
The NIA statement said that Baba went to Pakistan by crossing the Wagah border in Punjab. “During his visits, he met with JeM commanders and took directions from them after getting clearance from a local ISI (Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency) agent. On his return, he received instructions on how and when to receive the group of terrorists (responsible for the attack),” the NIA statement said.
“Around a week prior to the attack, he and the other arrested terrorist Muneer (ul-Hassan Qadri ) were given the GPS coordinates of the receiving point along the Samba sector highway as well as of the possible targets along the Nagrota army cantonment through whatsapp from their handlers in Pakistan. They were asked to recce these targets,” the statement added.
The statement further said that Ashiq, Muneer and a third accused, Tariq Ahmed Dar, finalised the receiving point and the target -- the Officers’ Mess complex of 166 Medium Regiment at Nagrota.
The statement said the three met with the three militants who attacked the camp a day before the operation. The attackers changed clothes near the highway and travelled in two vehicles to Jammu, with their weapons concealed in the boot of one of the two cars owned by Tariq and Ashiq Baba.
The statement said that they stayed at a hotel in Jammu and Ashiq and the leader of the group of attackers, Abu Hisham, went to Nagrota to see the site. The three arrested accused then dropped the attackers near the army camp late in the night and returned to Srinagar.
The NIA alleged that following the attack, Ashiq went to Pakistan again in April-May 2017 and met key JeM commanders and also Mufti Rauf (brother of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and an accused in the Pathankot attack case) at their headquarters at Bahawalpur. The NIA contended that in the meeting, JeM commanders showered praise on him and, as a reward, also sent money to his bank account, which was routed through Gulf countries.
The agency added that, after the Nagrota attack, Ashiq Baba and Muneer received three other militants in March 2017 from the Samba sector and dropped them off in Kashmir’s Pampore region.