The Punjab Police on Thursday said it foiled a major attempt to smuggle arms and ammunition into Kashmir to carry out terror attacks there with the arrest of two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives.
Ten hand grenades, along with one AK-47 rifle with two magazines and 60 live cartridges were seized from the two, identified as Aamir Hussain Wani (26) and Wasim Hassan Wani (27), both residents of Shopian, the police said.
"The two, actively involved in transporting automatic weapons and hand grenades from Punjab to the Kashmir Valley, were arrested by the Pathankot police, which intercepted a truck bearing J-K registration at a "naka" on the Amritsar-Jammu highway," Punjab senior police official Dinkar Gupta said in a statement.
Mr Gupta said the search of the truck led to the recovery of the weapons and ammunition and the accused, during preliminary investigation, revealed that they had been directed to collect the weapons consignment from Punjab by Ishfaq Ahmed Dar alias Bashir Ahmed Khan, a former J&K constable.
Mr Gupta said as per disclosures made by the two arrested LeT terrorists, the weapons were to be delivered to Dar for carrying out terror attacks in the Kashmir Valley.
Currently an active terrorist of LeT in the Kashmir valley, Dar had gone missing in 2017, he said.
During questioning, the duo further disclosed that they had collected the consignment from two unknown persons early Thursday morning at a pre-arranged location on Maqboolpura-Vallah road near the vegetable market in Amritsar.
They had then concealed the consignment in the truck, which they had brought ostensibly for the purpose of loading vegetables and fruits from the mandi in Amritsar, the DGP said.
Wani revealed that on his earlier trips to Punjab in his truck, he had collected more than Rs 20 lakh of hawala money at the behest of his handlers - Ishfaq Ahmed Dar and Rameez Raja, who is currently lodged in a jail in J-K for his involvement in terror activities.
Wani disclosed that during previous trips to Amritsar, he had ferried two armed Hizbul Mujahideen and LeT terrorists from Punjab to the Valley. Incidentally, both of them are now dead.
Wani identified them as Hizbul Mujahideen's Saddam Ahmed Paddar, and Jasim Ahmed Shah, both residents of Pulwama.
Paddar was picked up with a pistol from near Verka in Amritsar, while Shah was picked up from a Kashmiri hotel near Gurdaspur Bypass, Batala with an AK-47 and grenade in his possession.
The DGP said a case under relevant sections of the Arms Act, Explosive Substances Amendment Act 2001 and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 has been registered at Sadar police station in Pathankot.
Further investigations are on to unravel this network of Lashkar-e-Taiba and their operations in Punjab, in coordination with the J&K police, said the DGP.
According to Mr Gupta, the arrest of Wani and Wasim had corroborated recent intelligence inputs, indicating that Pakistan's ISI has been pushing weapons consignments and infiltrating militants from across the border into Punjab, and further to Kashmir valley for carrying out terror activities.
Earlier, on April 25, the Punjab police had arrested another J&K based youth, namely Hilal Ahmed Wagay, who had come to collect drug money from Amritsar, on the instructions of killed Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Riyaz Ahmed Naikoo.
In that case also, Hilal had used a truck for ferrying the drug money.