Jammu and Kashmir Police bust terror module, claim Lashkar now using non-natives to loot banks, ATMs

In what seems as a major breakthrough in anti-terror operations for security forces in the Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday busted a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) module in south Kashmir which was active and was responsible for several bank robbery cases and looting ATMs.

“We have busted a module involved in a series of sensational crimes, including terror crimes in south Kashmir," Inspector General of Police (IGP), Munir Khan told reporters. "Two individuals Sandeep Kumar Sharma alias Adil, a resident of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, and Muneeb Shah, a resident of Kulgam in south Kashmir were arrested,"  PTI quoted him as saying.

The latest development assumes significance as probably for the first time in the state's militancy-infested history, the arrested kingpin of the module is a non-Kashmiri. Khan said that Sandeep was arrested from Muzaffarnagar, after the police received intelligence inputs that Sandeep was in the same house where Lashkar militant Bashir Lashkari had taken shelter.

Lashkari was killed in an encounter with the security forces in Anantnag on 1 July. Khan also added that he was also part of the group that ambushed SHO Feroz Ahmed Dar and five other policemen in June.

According to the police, Sandeep came to Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in 2012. Sandeep worked as a welder in the state in the summers, while in the winters, he would go outside the valley, especially to Patiala.

“While working in Punjab, he came in contact with one Shahid Ahmad, a resident of Kulgam, who was also working in Punjab. In January this year, he came to the valley and planned to loot ATMs and other robberies in south Kashmir," PTI quoted police as saying.

Four people — Sandeep, Muneeb, Shahid and Muzaffar Ahmad — stayed in a rented accommodation in Kulgam for carrying out criminal activities.

Police further added that the group later met with a militant Shakoor Ahmed from Sopore, who put them in touch with LeT operatives. These operatives took Sandeep's help in looting banks and ATMs across south Kashmir.

While focussing on the modus operandi of the module, Khan said that Sandeep accompanied Lashkar militants in looting four ATMs across the state. Khan also added that Sandeep and the rest of the module shared the booty among them.

While Sandeep began with looting banks and ATMs, the police claimed that Sandeep also became a hardened terrorist, adopting the name Adil, and accompanied militants in at least three operations. Khan particularly pointed out that Sandeep was at the spot where Dar and five other militants were killed on 16 June.

Police said that LeT militants exploited Sandeep's non-Kashmiri credentials to the hilt, as he did not need any identity proof to travel across the state. Khan slammed the Lashkar as a "hub of criminals" and that they have been using non-Kashmiri criminals for looting banks.

Notably, bank robberies and ATM loot increased manifolds after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes on 8 November 2016.


With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jul 10, 2017 13:29 PM

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