Top J&K politicians were target of longest surviving militant

Top J&K politicians were target of longest surviving militant

13 September 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Mehraj-ud-Din Wani alias Javed alias Daand, the longest surviving militant of Kashmir who was arrested by police yesterday from Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and lodged in Kishtwar police station, was widely connected to top brass of militants, operating from Pakistan including Dawood Ibrahim, his younger brother Anees Ibrahim and United Jehad Council (UJC) chief Syed Salah-ud-Din. Daand, who was among the first five youth who had joined militancy in Kashmir along with Salah-ud-Din, Hamid Sheikh, Yasin Malik etc had some top politicians of Jammu and Kashmir on his hit list when he was traveling from Nepal to Kashmir on the directions of Pakistan’s Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with whom he had close rapport. Married to a Hindu girl in Nepal, named Sapna Goura of Kathmandu, Daand, a resident of Krank, Shivan Colony, Sopore in Kashmir, was stated to be in Nepal capital in the office of Pakistan Embassy along with official Arshad Ayub when IC-814 flight was hijacked from Nepal and taken to Kandahar after brief landing at Amritsar on December 24, 1999. India had to release Moulana Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad in lieu of hijacked passengers along with two other top ultras Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Latram. Name of Daand didn’t figure in Kandahar hijacking FIR as he had been operating with at least 25 code names. Sources said there was also a possibility that Pakistan Embassy in Nepal had been used for pumping hawala money and arms into India, which were used for fanning terrorism in the country especially Jammu and Kashmir. Daand had frequently traveled from India to Pakistan and Nepal on different identities using passports and visas arranged for him (in Pakistan) by Pakistan Army and ISI officials. He had a long list of contacts in Kashmir Valley, other parts of country, Pakistan, Nepal and Saudi Arabia. Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, IGP Jammu Dilbagh Singh said Daand, a resident of Sopore belonged to first group of five militants from Kashmir, which had crossed over to Pakistan for arms training in 1988. He had returned to the Valley in 1989 after arms training and was presently in the rank of Salah-ud-Din, Dawood Ibrahim, Moulana Masood Azhar etc, all of whom figured in the list of ‘top 20’, wanted by India from Pakistan for fanning terrorism in the country. He was part of Muslim Mujahideen in Pakistan initially but had later worked with almost all militant outfits including Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, Mr Singh said, describing arrest of Daand as a prize catch. The IGP Jammu said the militant had traveled Pakistan and Nepal a number of times to mobilize support for militancy and generate hawala money for terrorists. He had been using different identities for his travel on Pakistani passports and visas, he added. Dilbagh Singh said the militant has claimed during preliminary interrogation that he was on way to Kashmir for treatment of his brain tumour in Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura. However, his statement would be verified after medical examination, he added. Mr Singh said the extent of Daand’s involvement in Kandahar hijacking was being probed. However, he added that Daand was close associate of Dawood Ibrahim and his younger brother Anees Ibrahim and had several times enjoyed their hospitality in Karachi including their Clifton restaurant. Reliable sources said some top politicians of Jammu and Kashmir were on hit list of Daand and that was the reason for his traveling to Kashmir from Nepal. He had entered Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh a day before as an ordinary citizen on fake identity and then boarded a train to Jammu. He was traveling to Srinagar in a TATA Sumo when a Kishtwar police party on an input developed by an Intelligence agency nabbed him between Batote and Ramban yesterday. He was taken to Kishtwar for questioning. Sources said since Daand was longest surviving militant, Pakistan Army and ISI had assigned him the task of using old militants and target top political leadership of the State to give a boost to the militancy. 'Very top politicians’’, sources remarked when asked as to who could be the targets of Daand. In another significant disclosures, sources said, Daand was present in Pakistan Embassy at Kathmandu, Nepal in December 1999 when the militants hijacked Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar. A Pakistan Embassy official, Arshad Ayub and Daand were closeted with each other and the possibility of their involvement in the hijacking was not ruled out. India has quite often blamed Pakistan for hijacking as Moulana Masood Azhar, Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Latram, all three militants released in lieu of the passengers, were later spotted in Pakistan. Sources said Daand was being quizzed to ascertain his as well as Pakistan Embassy official Arshad Ayub in Kandahar hijacking. DIG Doda-Ramban range Gareeb Dass was investigating the case and leading police team in interrogation of top militants. Meanwhile, Major General Ramesh Babu, GOC, Counter Insurgency Force (Delta) said the arrest was made in a joint operation conducted by Army and police. He said it was a major success for security forces. They added that Daand had traveled to Pakistan at least six times from India and paid more than a dozen trips from Pakistan to Nepal using different identities and passports. Pakistan Army and ISI officials mostly arranged his passports and visas. During one of his trip from India to Pakistan, he was issued visa on the request of hardliner Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Police said they have evidence that Geelani had recommended Daand for issuance of Pakistani visa. Initially, Daand was involved in various subversive activities but once he joined top brass of militants like Salah-ud-Din, Dawood Ibrahim etc, he started acting as motivator, fundraiser and launching commander for militants. He was instrumental in sending militants from Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country to Pakistan for arms training and arranging return of trained militants to India for carrying out terror acts. He had also been instrumental in generating hawala funding for the militants of Kashmir from various foreign countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc. Though six trips of Daand from India to Pakistan and over dozen flying visits from Pakistan to Nepal have been confirmed, sources said he might have traveled quite often between India, Pakistan and Nepal. During one of his trip, he married a Kathmandu’s Hindu girl, Sapna Goura showing his identity as Hindu on passport and visa, which he had managed with the help of Pakistan Army and ISI officials. Sources said Daand was close associate of Dawood Ibrahim and his younger brother Anees Ibrahim besides United Jehad Council (UJC) chief Syed Salah-ud-Din, though there had been reports that he had fallen apart with Salah-ud-Din for past couple of years along with Saleem Qureshi, who had surrendered in Kashmir three years back. Daand had generated huge hawala funds from Dawood and Anees and pumped them into the Kashmir Valley for funding militancy. He has admitted having visited and stayed quite often at Clifton residence of Dawood and Anees at Karachi and executed some tasks at their behest. Sources said the involvement of Daand in Lajpat Nagar blast at New Delhi in 1996 was also under investigations. His two associates were involved in that blast. During questioning, his involvement was likely to surface in many terror activities not only within Jammu and Kashmir but also across the country as during past 25 years in militancy, he had developed contacts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and some Gulf countries. Sources said though Daand had claimed that he was traveling to SKIMS in Srinagar from Kathmandu, Nepal for treatment of his brain tumour, sources said he could have easily afford such treatment anywhere in the world due to his close proximity with Dawood brothers, Pakistan Army and ISI. 'We have reports that he had been tasked to revive his contacts and target top politicians of the country’’, sources said. Daand was a member of UJC, an umbrella group of several militant outfits. Police said Daand had provided logistical support by giving fake travel documents to the five Pakistani men, who had hijacked IC-814. The aircraft with 176 passengers on board, was hijacked by five Pakistani militants and forced to land in Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai before being taken to Kandahar, then Taliban’s bastion. Rupin Katyal, one of the 176 passengers on board, was killed during the seven-days stand-off. Police said with the help of the Pakistan diplomat in Kathmandu, Mehraj-ud-Din had reportedly smuggled weapons, ammunition and fake currency into India. The IGP Jammu said after his return from training in 1989, Daand had been arrested in Uri and sent to Kot Bhalwal Jail, where he came in contact with militants like Syed Salah-ud-Din, Nayeem Khan and Imran Rahi. He was released and crossed several times to Pakistan on fake passports via Wagah border and also Nepal during the period to carry out the plans of militants, Dilbagh Singh said. In Pakistan, he met top militants - Bilal Sidiqee, Ehsan Dar, Javaid Guru, who motivated him set up bases in Delhi and other places in 1992. Mehraj-ud-Din set up his network in Delhi, Saharanpur and Bangalore and carried out hawala operations, the IGP said. In Delhi, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said, 'we have to confirm the reports on Daand’s role in hijacking of IC-814 plane from Nepal to Kandahar in Afghanistan. If correct, I congratulate the J&K Police.'