NIA Chargesheet on Terror Conspiracy Reveals How Pakistan Recruited Kashmiris for Targeted Attacks, Put BJP Workers on Hit List

Rattled by FATF scrutiny and abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan resorted to recruiting Kashmiri journalists and students for terrorism and on the hit list were BJP workers and allies, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has claimed in its chargesheet in the terror conspiracy case.

In its 2,000-page chargesheet, the NIA has cited audio recordings, transcripts and interrogations to claim that Over Ground Workers (OGWs) turned hybrid terrorists of ISI-backed The Resistance Front (TRF) were tasked with targeting BJP workers, allies and leaders from the ruling party in Kashmir.

The ‘coordination group’

“Investigation reveals that on the directions of Pakistan-based terrorist commanders in association with active cadres of terrorist outfits, accused Ishfaq Amin Wani carried out the recce of Altaf Bukhari of JK Apni Party, Hina Beigh of BJP, other BJP workers, Court Complex , Batmaloo, and Salteng Camp of CRPF, ”the chargesheet, exclusively accessed by CNN-News18, says.

NIA has claimed that a meeting of all top terror commanders from Hizbul, Lashkar and Al Badr was called by ISI to give shape to their plans. A “coordination group” was created post meeting led by Syed Sallahuddin of the United Jihad Council so that cadre of terror organizations could coordinate with one another and carry out targeted attacks.

“The Chief of UJC, Syed Sallahuddin, had specifically asked the top commanders of the above said proscribed terrorist organizations to regroup and reach out to all the ex-militants and veterans Over Ground Workers (OGWs) in the Kashmir Valley in order to easily channelise funds , weapons and recruit local gullible youths to undertake Guerrilla type attacks in the Valley, ”the agency said in its chargesheet. It added that ISJK and Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind (AuGH) also joined hands with this coordination group.

The NIA has also attached screenshots of recoveries made from the phones of accused, which include Islamic State (IS) flags and events where “Kashmir banega Afghanistan” slogans were raised while holding an IS flag.

Multiple audio and video files attached to the chargesheet show terror commanders blaming the Narendra Modi government for the situation in the Valley and calling for action to “teach Modi and his leaders a lesson”.

CNN-News18 heard one of the audio files attached to the chargesheet in which a suspect can be heard telling his handler in Pakistan that he would murder BJP workers. “Main apne saath ek banda le jaunga. Uske pass chhota (pistol) hoga, mere pass bada (assault rifle). Agar mauka milega to udaa denge dono ko. Aur bhi agar unke saath BJP ke honge toh udaa denge [I will take another person with me. He will carry a small pistol while I will use an assault rifle. If we get a chance, we’ll kill them both. If there are more BJP workers with them, we’ll kill them too]”the suspect says.

NIA has also attached to its investigation report screenshots of messages exchanged in this regard by the accused with their commanders in Pakistan.

The agency has claimed that the OGWs recceded multiple targets like politicians and security force camps and most of these were in Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi.

The chargesheet has named Mustaq Ahmad Zargar @Mustaq Latram, an ex-filtrated terrorist of Lashkar-e-Toiba, and Imitiyaz Alam @ Bashir Ahmad Peer of Hizbul Mujahideen as the masterminds of this conspiracy that was hatched both on ground and in cyber space.

‘Attempt to prove home-grown terror’

The agency said the duo came up with names like The Resistance Front (TRF), Muslim Janbaaz Force (MJF), Kashmir Janbaaz Force (KJF) to prove that terrorism was actually home-grown and not connected to Pakistan. The NIA probe has showcased the elaborate cyber route that was taken to bypass communication restrictions placed by India post August 5, 2019, when Article 370 was scrapped.

Detailed communication via platforms such as Telegram, Signal, WhatsApp and Facebook have also been cited. “The groups operating under pseudo names decided to adopt a hit-and-run strategy and targeted focus on selective individuals, especially minorities, non-locals, police and security personnel, and domiciled individuals who migrated to Kashmir,” NIA said.

The agency claimed that TRF recruited journalists and students as active terrorists and gave them small arms to carry out attacks. Video evidence presented by NIA shows Pakistan-based handlers giving weapon training like assembling gun, using assault rifles and grenades over video calls to the accused. NIA has said the OGWs were grouped into strikers or hybrid terrorists and given the role of either logistical support or active killing, depending on which group they were categorized in.

In October-November 2021, 40 civilians were killed by TRF, including Pandits, Sikhs, labourers and non-local civilians.

“Investigation has further revealed that since its existence, The Resistance Front (TRF) executed various terrorist attacks in the Valley by using small weapons in order to carry out targeted killings and escape easily depicting cadres as ‘faceless force’,” NIA said.

Bashir Ahmed Peer, Imtiyaz Kundoo, Bilal Ahmed Mir, Owais Ahmed Dar, Tariq Ahmed Dar, Tariq Ahmed Bafanda, Mohd. Haneef Chairalu, Hanan Gulzar Dar, Mateen Ahmed Bhat, Kamran Ashraf Reshi, Rayid Bashir, Mohd. Manan Dar, Zamin Adil Bhat, Hariis Nisar Langoo, Rouf Ahmad Bhat, Sobiya Aziz Mir, Amir Ahmad Gojree, Sadaat Amin Malik, Ishfaq Amin Wani, Rashid Muzafar Ganai, Nashir Ahmad Mir, Irfan Tariq Antoo, Suhail Ahmad Thokar, Adil Ahmad and Arif Farooq Bhat have been charged by NIA under sections of IPC and UAPA.

‘Rattled’ Pakistan at it again

The NIA investigation also claims that TRF was created as Pakistan was under pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its scrutiny of Pakistan’s crackdown against terrorists.

Proscribed terrorist organizations Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Al-Badr, Hizbul Mujahideen decided to undertake armed operations in Kashmir Valley under the disguise of pseudo names, with an aim to mislead international observers and organizations like FATF, and floated new terror off-shoots / gangs like “The Resistance Front (TRF)”, “People Against Fascist Forces (PAFF)”, “United Liberation Front J&K”, “Muslim Janbaaz Force (MJF)” etc, “NIA said.

It added that FATF scrutiny and sudden abrogation of Article 370 forced ISI to re-strategise in Kashmir.

“During the course of the investigation, it has been revealed that after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A, there was a significant reduction in the number of terror-related incidents in the Kashmir valley. This decline of terrorism was not well taken by Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI) and pro-Pakistan terrorist commanders, “NIA chargesheet said.

NIA claimed that ISI pressured terror commanders on its pay roll like Syed Sallahuddin, Arjumand Gulzar Dar @ Al-Badri @ Lala of Al-Badr, Mustaq Ahmad Zagar @Mustaq Latrum of Al Umar Mujahideen, Imitiyaz Alam @ Bashir Ahmed Peer of Hizbul Mujahideen, and Habibullah Malik @ Sajid Ali Jutt of LeT to look for ways in which terrorism in Kashmir can be showcased to the world as home-grown resistance against abrogation of Article 370.

The chargesheet was filed in April this year and the special NIA court in Delhi has taken cognizance.

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