National Investigation Agency (NIA)

NEW DELHI — The National Investigation Agency (NIA) intensified its efforts to dismantle the militancy network in Jammu and Kashmir by charging five individuals, including three fugitive handlers based in Pakistan, in connection with the January 2023 Rajouri attacks.

In a statement issued on Monday, the agency identified the case as RC-01 & 02/2023/NIA/JMU, which revolves around a brutal assault on civilians in village Dhangri on January 1, 2023, followed by an IED blast the next day. The attacks claimed the lives of seven people, including two children, and left numerous others severely injured.

According to the NIA, among the charged individuals are three handlers of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit: Saifullah alias Sajid Jutt alias Ali alias Habibullah alias Numan alias Langda alias Noumi, Mohd Qasim, and Abu Qatal alias Qatal Sindhi. While Abu Qatal and Sajit Jutt are Pakistani nationals, Qasim had crossed into Pakistan around 2002 and joined LeT’s ranks there.

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“The trio orchestrated the recruitment and dispatch of LeT terrorists from Pakistan to target innocent civilians, particularly from the minority community in Jammu & Kashmir, as well as security personnel. The attacks were carried out under their directives,” the statement affirmed.

It further detailed that Saifullah, currently a senior LeT commander, masterminded the conspiracy from Pakistan, with Qasim serving as his right-hand man. Abu Qatal, who had been active in the Poonch-Rajouri range since 2002-03, collaborated with other militants.

Additionally, the NIA charged Nisar Ahmed alias Haji Nisar and Mushtaq Hussain alias Chacha, both overground workers (OGWs) of LeT and residents of Mohra, Gursai, Tehsil Mendhar, District Poonch. The duo was apprehended during the investigation for providing logistical support to the militants, including food, shelter, and destroying evidence.

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“Nisar had also received arms, ammunition, and cash from the Pakistan-based handlers for the terrorists. He had been in contact with Abu Qatal even after the latter’s return to Pakistan,” the statement revealed.

The two adult accused and the Pakistan-based handlers face charges under the UA(P) Act and various sections of the IPC. The case against the apprehended juvenile will be presented to the Juvenile Justice Board in Rajouri.

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