Overground (OG) workers of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist group are active in the Indian city of Chandigarh, a strategically important city located 243km from New Delhi, sources in India’s top terror probe body the NIA have revealed.
Earlier, the investigative agency had also found links between the terrorists arrested in Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh.
Suspension of mobile and internet networks in Jammu and Kashmir had forced the terror networks to use internet services in neighbouring regions like Chandigarh, sources said.
According to them, investigations revealed that one of the three arrested JeM overground workers — identified as Uheel Ahmad, also known as, Suhail Javed Lone — had made several WhatsApp calls from Chandigarh during December 2019. Zahoor Ahmad Khan and Shoiab Manzoor were the two other JeM overground workers arrested with Lone.
Accused of running a communication network from Chandigarh, Lone was allegedly in touch via WhatsApp with two JeM launchpad commanders Abu Hamza and Abu Bakar – who run JeM activities from Karachi, Kotli Mirpur (Pakistan-administered Kashmir) Sialkot and Lahore cities.
The three OG workers were located after overground worker Sameer Dar arrested during the January 31 Nagrota Ban toll plaza police encounter tipped investigating agencies.
Punjab Turning into Haven for Jaish?
For the past few months, reports of links between Jaish, Hizbul Mujahideen and Khalistani militants have been surfacing in the media. Unmanned aerial vehicles dropping arms and drugs in the border districts of Punjab, which shares a border with Pakistan, have raised an alarm for security agencies.
While the Khalistan movement is a Sikh secessionist movement seeking to create a separate country "Khalistan" in Punjab region as a homeland for Sikhs, Hizbul Mujahideen, is a Kashmiri militant group seeking the independence of Kashmir from India.
Speculations are that Jaish’s support to Khalistan outfit will revive the militancy in Punjab state as well.
Investigative agencies have received inputs that the two Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, recently arrested with a Jammu and Kashmir police officer, had connections with Khalistani outfits in Punjab as well.
Even an overground (OG) worker arrested in the 31 January encounter had revealed that a group of terrorists associated with Jaish existed in Amritsar, a city in the Indian state of Punjab which shares a long stretch of the Indian border with Pakistan.
Furthermore, the drone scare is hovering over the border state. In September 2019, Punjab state authorities had warned the federal government after eight drones were allegedly used by Pakistan to airdrop a large number of AK-47 assault rifles and grenades into Amritsar city.
“It is the jihadi outfits who have shared the drone capabilities with the Khalistani groups, and our understanding is that outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have a whole inventory of these drones,” Director General of Punjab Police Dinkar Gupta was quoted by news daily Hindustan Times as saying.