The Jammu and Kashmir Police have arrested two people for allegedly transporting the two JeM terrorists who were killed in an encounter in Sunjwan here, officials said on Sunday. Driver Bilal Ahmad Wagay and his helper Ishfaq Chopan were nabbed from Anantnag district of south Kashmir.
Earlier, the police had arrested one person and detained another in connection with the encounter case.
Wagey and Chopan are accused of ferrying the two Pashtu-speaking Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists, either from Pakistan or Afghanistan, from Supwal in Samba district, after their infiltration from across the border, to Sunjwan in Jammu a day before the encounter. Both the terrorists, equipped with suicide vests and sophisticated weapons, were killed in the encounter on Friday, averting a major suicide attack in the city.
An Assistant Sub-Inspector of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was also killed when the terrorists attacked a bus before being engaged by the security forces. Nine security personnel, including two policemen, were also injured in the incident that took place just two days ahead of the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.
The officials said Wagay and his helper had left for Kashmir after dropping the terrorists in Sunjwan. "They were arrested in a late-night operation from Kokernag on Saturday and are being questioned," an official said.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday evening, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh announced a breakthrough in the case and said while two persons were nabbed, efforts were on to arrest two others, including Wagay. Shafiq Ahmed Sheikh of Tral was the first person to be arrested in the case. Mohammad Iqbal Rather of Malwan village of Kulgam in whose residence the terrorists stayed at Jallalabad locality of Sunjwan was detained on the disclosure of Sheikh. Rather has not been formally arrested in the case so far. "The analysis of mobile tower data as well as internet data usage of the general area led to suspicion on a person by the name of Bilal Ahmed Beig (Wagay) of south Kashmir's Kokarnag who had received the terrorists on the border at Supwal in Samba district and brought them to Jallalabad area before handing them to Sheikh, the Jammu police chief had said.
Sheikh's brother Asif — a key conspirator in the case — is still at large and efforts are on to nab him, the officials said. After the encounter, police teams worked tirelessly to establish the identity of the conspirators who were behind the plan to carry out a suicide attack in Jammu.
According to the ADGP, Sheikh and his brother Asif are deeply involved with terrorists of JeM. "Asif created a telegram ID called Pagal Jamaat' (Mad group) for Sheikh and also provided him with a mobile phone with a SIM card which was used to establish contact with a JeM commander in Pakistan by the name of Veer', his telegram identity, Singh said.
Wagay had set out on the instructions of a JeM commander from Kashmir's Pulwama at 10 am on April 20 and reached Jammu in the evening evening. "He stayed at Transport Nagar and at around 12 midnight, he sets out for Sapwal (border) in Samba and picked up two terrorists of JeM. They board a medium size truck loaded with empty vegetable crates and neatly created a cavity among the crates for hiding the terrorists, he said.
They reached Jallalabad locality of Sunjwan around 2.30 am. Sheikh received the terrorists and took them to a house in Jallalabad where they stayed and also discussed their plans with their handlers across the border, he said.
The plan was to take them to the nearest security base and inflict maximum casualties on the security forces to discourage the VVIP visit, the ADGP said, referring to the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Palli Panchayat in Samba on Sunday.