The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Police on Friday claimed to have arrested three suspected agents of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) who were allegedly involved in anti-state activities, including the bombing of a police station.
The masked suspects were produced before media persons at a briefing by senior police officials in Rawalakot, the headquarters of Poonch division, and were identified as Mohammad Khalil, Imtiaz and Rashid, all residents of Taroti village in Abbaspur.
Two of the suspects are in their mid-thirties and the third is in his mid-twenties, police officials said.
According to Sajid Imran, deputy superintendent of police (DSP) in Poonch, Khalil was the main suspect. He had reportedly visited India-held Kashmir in November 2014 to see his relatives in Bandi Chechian village, where he came in contact with RAW officials who lured him to work for them.
Khalil had undertaken the journey after obtaining an intra-Kashmir travel permit.
When he returned, he recruited fellow villagers, Imtiaz and Rashid, to work with him “for handsome returns.”
During preliminary investigations, Khalil disclosed that he had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) about 14 or 15 times, from different parts of Abbaspur sector, over the last two years, while his accomplices also confessed to crossing the LoC five to six times.
“Khalil would take with him cigarettes and [mobile phone] memory cards, carrying pictures of bridges, mosques controlled by the Deobandi school of thought, and army and police installations,” DSP Imran said, adding that the suspect had also given at least two active SIM cards, registered in his name, to Indian officials.
He would bring back money as well as Indian liquor, which he would later sell to different people in the area.
The DSP recalled a bomb blast outside a police station in the town of Abbaspur on September 27 last year, and said the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was planted by the trio, which they had brought from across the LoC.
Quoting revelations by the suspects during preliminary investigations, the DSP said RAW had tasked Khalil last year to carry out a bomb blast at any law enforcement agency installation, for which he was offered Rs 500,000 after completion of the task.
Khalil promised to give Rs150,000 and Rs50,000 to Imtiaz and Rashid, respectively, from that amount.
“They chose a police station as a soft target, but even though the building was damaged, there were no casualties,” he added.
However, when Indian officials sought newspapers as a proof of their action before giving him the pledged amount, Khalil failed to find one, the DSP said.
He then selected a deserted army bunker, where Imtiaz and Rashid put on army jackets stained with red paint and lay down on the floor as if they were dead. Khalil shot their pictures and took them across the LoC on September 30, but that did not work either, as his handlers insisted on asking for newspaper coverage of their actions, the police official added.
The police were alerted to their involvement in the blast after an individual said that he had spotted them in Abbaspur on the night of September 26 with a shopping bag in their possession.
“It was after that we tracked down the record of their movements and phone calls, with the help of intelligence agencies, and finally got hold of them from two different places two days ago,” he said.
The suspects have been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and Explosives Act, he said, adding: “Given the nature of their cases, they will be produced before an anti-terrorism court for physical remand.”
The news followed the conviction and sentencing of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadav earlier this week.
Jadhav was tried for espionage and sabotage by a Field General Court Martial and handed the death sentence for his involvement in various anti-state activities.