Police have charged brother of senior Congress leader and former Minister Ghulam Mohammad Saroori with giving shelter to Hizbul Mujahideen militants who were involved in recent militant activities in Kishtwar, Daily Excelsior reported.
Mohammad Shaffi Saroori son of Saidullah Saroori, brother of Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, a three-time Congress MLA from Inderwal and former Cabinet Minister, was among a total of six persons including some businessmen, who were booked today for helping the militants in their movement and arranging shelter for them in their house, said the report.
Meanwhile, Special Operations Group (SOG) and Military Intelligence (MI) seized 15 kg explosives from a passenger bus near Bus Stand and were searching a suspected couple who had delivered consignment to the bus driver at Phinter, about eight kilometers from Billawar tehsil in Kathua district and couple of youth who had to take the bag at Bari Brahamana but didn’t turn up, it said.
According to report recovery of 15 kg explosives came close on the heels of 40 kg explosives seizure in Billawar few days back.
The newspaper Daily Excelsior quoted Police as having said during sustained questioning, nine militants arrested in Kishtwar in connection with the killings of BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar, top RSS functionary Chanderkant Sharma and his PSO Rajinder Singh and two weapon snatching incidents, disclosed identity of persons who had given shelter to the militants in their own houses or arranged accommodation for them and helped them in moving from one place to other.
“Based on the disclosures police have booked six persons including Mohammad Shaffi Saroori in FIR No 229 registered under Sections 13/18/19/38/39 Unlawful Activities Prevention Act at Kishtwar police station,” the report quoted sources as having said.
Apart from Mohammad Shaffi Saroori, who is a businessman and resident of Kishtwar town, five others booked for aiding and abetting the militancy have been identified as Masood Ahmad son of Ghulam Mohammad Mattoo, Mohammad Muzaffar Shah, Ghulam Mohammad Kamal son of Abdul Rehmana, Touseef Ahmad Gundna son of Ghulam Ahmad Gundna and Syed Ahmad son of Syed Aijaz, all residents of Kishtwar town. Gundna is already in jail in an arms case.
Police said all six persons were involved in harbouring and abetting militancy in Kishtwar town. Extent of their involvement will be known once they are arrested and subjected to interrogation, they added.
Most significant is registration of case against Mohammad Shaffi Saroori as he happens to be prominent businessman and former Sarpanch and real brother of veteran Congress leader, Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, who was elected MLA thrice from Inderwal Assembly constituency in 2002, 2008 and 2014 and had also served as Cabinet Minister.
Saroori was not available for comments and calls made on his mobile telephone went unanswered.
Sources said the arrested militants had disclosed that Mohammad Shaffi Saroori and five others booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act were instrumental in sheltering or arranging shelter for the militants and facilitating their movement including those who were involved in four major acts in Kishtwar during past 11 months—-killings of Parihar brothers, RSS leader Chanderkant Sharma and his PSO Rajinder Singh and weapon snatching from the PSO of the Deputy Commissioner and the PDP district president.
Nine militants have so far been arrested by Kishtwar police in connection with the four acts of Kishtwar while three others were gunned down by the security forces at Batote in Ramban district recently.
Meanwhile, SOG Jammu and Military Intelligence today seized 15 kg explosive from passenger bus No. JK02AU-7167 soon after it reached BC Road near Bus Stand from Billawar tehsil of Kathua district.
DIG Jammu-Samba-Kathua range Vivek Gupta told the Excelsior that the seized explosive is being sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for examination.
Gupta said searches were on to track down a couple which handed over the explosive bag to the bus driver.
Sources said the bus left Billawar at 5.20 am and about eight kilometers ahead at Phinter, a couple handed over a bag to the driver and paid Rs 50 saying some teen-agers will collect it at Bari Brahamana. The couple told the driver that the bag contained flour.
This is a common practice in hilly areas where people deliver bags to bus drivers and conductors for being collected at particular place, sources said, adding that none approached the bus driver or conductor for taking the bag.
A team of Military Intelligence had developed input about movement of the consignment and was sitting in the bus to trap the persons who had to collect the bag at Bari Brahamana. As the bus reached BC Road and none came forward to collect the bag, the Military Intelligence sleuths sounded Jammu Police and SOG. A team of SOG led by SP Operations Sandeep Mehta and DySP Diwakar Singh reached the spot and seized the explosive material.
Police questioned driver, conductor and another person sitting in the bus but they had no clue about the couple, which handed over the bag to the driver.
The driver was reported to have said that the couple was speaking Dogri and appeared to be locals. The man was wearing white ‘kurta pyjama’ while the woman had covered herself with blanket.
Police was conducting searches to nab them.
Only few days back, the Military Intelligence and police had seized 40 kg explosive in Billawar and arrested one person in whose house the explosive was kept.
The SOG teams took the driver and conductor to phinter tonight in search of the couple. Sketches of the couple have been prepared and circulated, Daily Excelsior reported.