Srinagar police, IB quiz vehicle thieves nabbed in Delhi last week
A team of Intelligence Bureau(IB) officials and the CID unit of Srinagar police on Monday reached Delhi to interrogate two men who were arrested last week for stealing vehicles and selling them in Kashmir. The two agencies questioned the suspects to get information about their contacts in Kashmir to whom they sold the vehicles.
Officers privy to the development, however, said there was no evidence so far to suggest that the suspects were involved in terror activities.
On Sunday, Delhi police said they busted an organised gang of vehicle thieves, and arrested Showkat Ahmad Malla, 25, a resident of Baramulla, Kashmir and Mohammed Juber, 22, a resident of Shamli, Uttar Pradesh. The two were arrested from central’s Delhi’s Paharganj area. Police said that the gang, to which the two men belonged, has sold more than 100 vehicles to buyers in the Kashmir valley.
Explaining their operation, Delhi police officers said Showkat flew to Delhi and drove the vehicles to Sopore town in Kashmir’s Baramulla district, from where they were sent to other places.
“A team of CID officers from DIG CID unit of J&K police came yesterday. Separately, the IB officials also came and interrogated them. Some photographs found on the phones of the two men aroused suspicion so they had to be interrogated. Though one cannot say it is linked to terror activities. They questioned the two men for their contacts. They will verify the information shared by the two men. There are some members of the gang, who are still believed to be hiding in the valley,” an officer, who asked not to be named, said.
To be sure 90-100 vehicles are stolen across the city every day. Between January 1 and June 15, 2021, police registered 15,667 cases of motor vehicle thefts in Delhi. Police have in the past busted vehicle thieves, who took stolen cars to states as far as those in the Northeast. But this is the first major case of organised theft racket spread from western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to the Kashmir valley, the officer said.
As part of the probe, a Delhi police team is also going to Kashmir to find the associates of the two suspects. Police are on the lookout for a man named, Wasim Sheikh, a resident of Baramulla. “Wasim is our main link in the case. He has come to Delhi on several occasions and has taken cars to Kashmir. Showkat learnt the trade from him. We will seek the assistance of J&K police to trace him,” added a second police officer, who asked not to be named.
Police said Shaukat also works as a civil contractor for the state government in Kashmir. Police said Shaukat and his accomplice Juber, received the stolen vehicles from one Rinku.
Rinku tampered with the chassis and engine numbers, changed the registration plate of the vehicle before handing it to Shaukat. Police have recovered at least 100 registration number plates and 150 duplicate car keys from the two suspects, investigators said.
When contacted, Jasmeet Singh, deputy commissioner of police(central), whose team arrested the two alleged vehicle thieves, said, “The investigation in the case is on. There are some missing links that we are trying to establish. We are probing who bought the stolen vehicles in Kashmir.”
Singh did not comment on the joint interrogation of the two men by the IB and the J&K police.