Cleric running ‘espionage’ racket arrested in J-K’s Kishtwar

JAMMU — Military Intelligence (MI) and Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday arrested a local cleric by busting a “terror-cum- espionage module” run by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI).

Officials told the news agency KNO that based on specific inputs from Military Intelligence, Kishtwar Police apprehended a local cleric from a mosque in Kishtwar.

“The arrested cleric has been identified as 22-year-old Abdul Wahid, resident of Cherji Dool tehsil in Kishtwar district,” the officials said, adding that “the suspect was working as a Molvi in Madeenatul Uloom Darasgah Dadpeth.”

He was staying with his wife, Fatima and seven-year-old son, Afaan, in a nearby Madrassa, where he was working as Qari (teacher). “That is why he was often referred to as Qari Sahab by many in Kishtwar. Investigations revealed that cleric was working for a terror organisation, Kashmir Janbaaz Force (KJF), being controlled from Pakistan,” the officials said.

“During questioning, intelligence agencies found that Wahid used to pass information related to security forces to ISI and KJF,” the statement said.

Sources said that as a part of ongoing counterintelligence monitoring by Military Intelligence (MI), it came to light that the cleric was passing information pertaining to military deployment and movement to one of his contacts in Pakistan.

“For quite some time, Wahid was under the scanner for his suspicious activities. During the course of the investigation, intelligence agencies found that Wahid was using WhatsApp and other social media accounts to share sensitive info like photographs and video clips of security installation to ISI officials and members of one of the terror organisations in Pakistan,” they said.

The source said that following inputs from MI, sleuths of J&K Police called Wahid to appear for questioning at Kishtwar. “During joint interrogation, Wahid revealed that two years back, through Facebook, he came in contact with one Tayyab Farooqi alias Umar Khatab, who introduced himself as Amir (commander) of Kashmir Janbaz Force (KJF),” the source said.

It added, “He was initially tasked to upload photos and content related to KJF on Facebook. Further, they graduated to WhatsApp, wherein the so-called commander of KJF used to communicate using a Pakistani number.”

The sources said that within weeks, Abdul Wahid became an active member of Facebook and WhatsApp groups run by KJF. “He started supporting their anti-India activities on the digital domain,” they said, adding that Abdul Wahid had even offered to join KJF as a terrorist.”

The sources said that subsequently Wahid also started communicating with a few other unknown cadres, supporters of KJF and officials of Pakistani Intelligence Operatives (PIOs). “To lure him, ISI men offered him money, a new phone and other gadgetry,” they said.

They added, “Besides this, Abdul Wahid was provided with a few virtual number-based WhatsApp accounts to communicate with his handlers.”

They said that he was instructed to keep his mobile phone clean and change his device frequently.

“Molvi was tasked to radicalise and recruit youth to wage war against India. Besides espionage, ISI asked Qari Saheb to motivate and brainwash youth and prepare them to join KJF,” the sources said, adding that “for the last two years, ISI has been making concerted efforts to revive terror-related activities in Chenab belt, which includes Doda, Kishtwar and Bhaderwah.”

He used to indoctrinate and brainwash youngsters studying in Madrassas to prepare them to pick up Pakistan-sponsored guns against India.

The official sources said that Abdul Wahid, during questioning, accepted to have sent photos of Army camps along with a marked route for infiltration into the same to ISI.

“He disclosed that he had sent locations of nearby Army camp and training locations of Army personnel, hence making these locations and personnel vulnerable to targeted terror attacks,” they said.

“On finding his active involvement with the terrorists and Pakistan’s spy agency, the accused is being booked by Kishtwar Police under relevant sections of UAP(A)/CrPC,” they further added.

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