In a major breakthrough, the Punjab Police have traced the inter-state links of slain Hizbul Mujhahideen commander Riyaz Ahmed Naikoo with the arrest of two accomplices of his close associate, Hilal Ahmed Wagay, from Amritsar on Wednesday.
Given the gravity of the offences and the cross-border ramifications of the case beyond Punjab, the Centre has directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over further investigations into the case to unravel the entire conspiracy, which has footprints leading across the border via J&K.
It may be recalled that Naikoo, the commander of banned terror outfit Hizbul Muzahideen (HM), was gunned down by security forces in south Kashmir on Wednesday.
Wagay, who was arrested on April 25 by the Punjab Police, had subsequently shared the details of his disclosures with the Centre as well as the Jammu and Kashmir government.
Giving details of Wednesday's arrests, Punjab Police DGP Dinkar Gupta said the duo was traced through investigations into the trail of Hizbul terrorist Wagay, who was nabbed from Amritsar, where he had come to collect money on the instructions of Naikoo.
The arrested persons have been identified as Bikram Singh and Maninder Singh, both from Amritsar. The police seized 1 kg heroin along with Rs 32 lakh in Indian currency from their possession, unveiling the Pakistan-sponsored conspiracy to smuggle narcotics and weapons into the state, Gupta said.
While Rs 20 lakh cash was recovered from them at the time of their arrest, the remaining amount was seized from their homes later, following the grant of police remand by the court.
The interrogation of the two accused further revealed that both Bikram and Maninder, along with their cousins Ranjit Singh, Iqbal Singh and Sarwan Singh, dealt in drugs and weapons smuggled from across the border.