NIA to probe arrest of three Kashmiri students from Punjab

Chandigarh: The National Investigating Agency will probe the arrest of three Kashmiri students, associated with terrorist outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH), from Punjab recently, police said on Saturday.

The students, studying in educational institutions in Punjab’s Jalandhar district, were arrested in a joint operation of the Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir Police recently.

“Given the inter-state and international ramifications of the case, the Central and Punjab governments have decided to hand over the investigations to the NIA,” said Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora.

The three students were arrested last month in a joint operation by the Punjab Police and Special Operations Group (SoG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police from the hostel of CT Institute of Engineering Management and Technology, located in Shahpur on the outskirts of Jalandhar city, around 160 km from Chandigarh.

Two weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle, were seized from them along with explosives.

“The decision to hand over the case was taken after discussions on the issue between the Punjab government and the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the DGP said in a statement.

“Initial investigations had revealed that the students, identified as Zahid Gulzar, Mohammed Idris Shah and Yusuf Rafiq Bhatt, were associated with AGH, a Kashmir-based terrorist outfit with links to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM),” the DGP said.

“The AGH is reportedly headed by Zakir Rashid Bhatt alias Zakir Mussa,” the DGP added.

Senior officials took note of the fact that after these arrests, two more Kashmiri students were arrested by Punjab Police in the Maqsudan Police Station hand-grenade blasts case of September 14.

Two other accomplices of these arrested students are still absconding.

“This was indicative of efforts by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence to expand the arc of militancy on India’s western border,” Arora pointed out, adding that the entire conspiracy and network to foment trouble in Punjab needed to be exposed.