SRINAGAR: Some prominent Kashmir-based separatists are under the scanner for arranging identity and travel documents for local recruits of terrorist outfits to legally enter Pakistan by road and get arms training there for a couple of weeks, a spokesperson for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Friday.
The revelation came a day after a charge sheet was filed in the special NIA court in Jammu against two slain Lashkar-e-Taiba handlers and an arrested recruit who had travelled to Pakistan with “valid Indian documents” issued on the recommendation of well-connected functionaries of separatist groups.
“Muneeb Hameed Bhat is just one among scores of Kashmiri terrorist recruits legally sent across the border between 2016 and 2018. After training stints lasting 5 to 15 days, they would return without raising any suspicion and join sleeper cells as a stepping stone to actively participate in terror activities,” the spokesperson said.
During the course of its probe that started in September 2018, the NIA found out that Muneeb had been groomed to join Lashkar by Junaid Ahmad Mattoo, a terrorist from his native district of Kulgam in south Kashmir. Another arrested terrorist, Umer Rashid Wani, provided funds to meet his expenses during the Pakistan trip.
“Muneeb was in Pakistan from July to August 2017 on valid travel documents arranged with the help of a separatist organisation. Besides weapons training, he was trained in the use of chat and messaging platforms on the dark web,” the NIA spokesperson said. “After returning from Pakistan, he remained in touch with his Lashkar handlers in Pakistan through clandestine messaging platforms set up to plan and execute subversive activities in the Valley.”
Junaid and Umer were killed in separate encounters in J&K in 2017 and 2018 respectively.