The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Police on Friday claimed to have arrested three suspected agents of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), allegedly involved in anti state activities, including a bomb blast outside a police station.
The masked suspects were produced before media persons at a briefing by senior police officials in Rawalakot, the headquarters of Poonch division, and were identified as Mohammad Khalil, Imtiaz and Rashid, all residents of Taroti village in Abbaspur.
The first two are in their mid thirties and the third is in his mid twenties, police officials said.
According to Sajid Imran, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in district Poonch, Khalil was the main suspect, who visited India-held Kashmir in November 2014 to see his relatives in Bandi Chechian village, where he came in contact with RAW officials who lured him to work for them.
Khalil had undertaken the journey after obtaining intra-Kashmir travel permit.
When he returned, he recruited fellow villagers, Imtiaz and Rashid, to work with him “for handsome returns.”
During the preliminary investigations, Khalil disclosed that he had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) about 14 or 15 times, from different parts of Abbaspur sector, over the last 2 years, while his accomplices also confessed to crossing the LoC five to six times.
“Khalil would take with him cigarettes and (mobile phone) memory cards, carrying pictures of bridges, mosques controlled by the Deobandi school of thought, and army and police installations,” DSP Imran said, adding, he had also given at least two active SIM cards, registered in his name, to Indian officials.
He would bring money as well as Indian liquor, which he would later sell to different people in the area.
The DSP recalled a bomb blast outside a police station in the town of Abbaspur on September 27 last year, and said the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was planted by the trio, which they had brought from across the LoC.
Quoting revelations by the suspects during preliminary investigations, the DSP said that last year RAW tasked Khalil to carry out a bomb blast at any law enforcement agency installation, for which he was offered Rs 500,000 after completion of the task.
Khalil gave Rs150,000 and Rs50,000 to Imtiaz and Rashid, respectively, from that amount.
“They chose a police station as a soft target, but even though the building was damaged, there were no casualties,” he added.
However, when Indian officials sought newspapers as a proof of their action, before giving him the pledged amount, Khalil failed to find any newspaper, the DSP said.
Then, he selected a deserted army bunker, where Imtiaz and Rashid put on red paint stained army jackets and lay down on the floor as if they were dead. Khalil shot their pictures and took them across the LoC on September 30, but that did not work either, as Indians stressed for the newspapers, the police official added.
The police got a clue about their involvement in the blast recently after an individual saud that he had spotted them in Abbaspur on the night of September 26 with a shopping bag in their possession.
“It was after that we tracked down the record of their movements and phone calls, with the help of intelligence agencies, and finally got hold of them from two different places two days ago,” he said.
The suspects have been booked under Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) and Explosives Act, he said, adding, “Given the nature of their cases, they would be produced before an anti-terrorism court for physical remand.”
Jadhav’s arrest and trial
Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, through a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan’s Mashkel area for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Monday.
Although the accused had been provided with a defending officer as per legal provisions, according to ISPR, Pakistan had turned down India’s request seeking consular access to Jadhav last year due to his involvement in “subversive activities” in the country.
Jadhav was tried by the FGCM under Section 59 of the PAA and Section 3 of the official Secret Act of 1923, the statement said.
Jadhav confessed before a magistrate and court that he was tasked by Indian spy agency Research and Analysis wing to plan, coordinate and organise espionage and sabotage activities seeking to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan through impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for the restoration of peace in Balochistan and Karachi, the ISPR said.
Following the announcement, India summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi Abdul Basit on Monday and handed over a demarche saying, “If this sentence against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder.”
Dawn reported that Jadhav now has 40 days to file an appeal against the FGCM in the army’s court of appeal, according to retired Col Inamur Rahim, a military law expert.
In case the appeal court upholds the FGCM verdict, Jadhav would have the opportunity to seek mercy from the army chief and the president of Pakistan.
Simultaneously, Col Inam said, the convict could approach a high court if he felt that due process was not observed during his trial and his fundamental rights as an accused were not fulfilled.
Experts view the military’s announcement about Jadhav’s trial and prosecution as an unprecedented move, viewing it as a strong message to India as well as other foreign intelligence agencies.