The Special Investigation Agency (SIA), a unit carved out of the Jammu and Kashmir police, has filed a charge sheet against three persons, including an Indian student enrolled in a Pakistani university and his father, for indulging in terror activities and passing across the border information about army units.
Officials said this was another example of Pakistan misusing higher studies as bait for recruitment in terror groups.
They said that 17 youths who had gone to Pakistan for studies had been killed at the Line of Control while infiltrating Kashmir or during security forces’ encounters with terror outfits.
The charge sheet was filed against student Asif Shabir Naik, a resident of Kashtigarh in Doda, his father Shabir Hussain Naik, and Safdar Hussain (the latter two currently in Pakistan) under various sections of the anti-terror law, officials said.
The SIA has also invoked the legal tool of Letters Rogatory wherein the Pakistani court of law would be approached through the competent Indian court seeking Pakistan’s assistance in providing information about the charge-sheeted individuals. “Even if the prospects of a positive response are bleak, the SIA will not leave a single legal stone unturned,” said a senior agency official.
A student in disguise, Asif Shabir Naik, was given a cover as a student of the International Islamic University in Islamabad in a mass communication program, but actually, he was working in the media cell of the banned terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, the officials said.
He was intercepted at the Srinagar airport based on intelligence inputs that he had been visiting Pakistan posing as a student studying there.
However, according to the officials, he had been visiting terrorist and separatist training facilities.
The case has shown how Pakistani agencies have been brazenly and egregiously misusing the travel between the two countries based on valid travel documents and the Indian students going to Pakistan for higher studies, the officials said.
Investigations show that the terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen gave the cover of studentship to Naik but used his stay in Pakistan to meet his father, who heads the media wing of the banned terror outfit, besides providing him training in sabotage and subversion, they said.
His phone’s forensic examinations showed he had video graphed army installations along the Baramula-Srinagar Road. The officials said he had also photographed the access road to the airport and security features adjacent to it. Naik was issued a visitor’s visa, but immigration records indicated he was a student.
Others absconding While Naik has been arrested in the case and is currently in judicial custody, the two other accused — alleged mastermind Shabir Hussain Naik and his associate Safdar Hussain — are hiding in Pakistan and have been charge-sheeted as absconders, the officials said.
According to the officials, the probe showed that Naik had concealed that his father was in Pakistan and a senior member of the terror group and that he had been falsely mentioned that he was visiting Pakistan to meet a relative by the name of Subhan Bhat, a fictitious character.
The objective of Naik’s admission as a student in a mass media course in Pakistan was to return to India as a journalist and clandestinely get embedded in the system and receive instructions from across the border for planning, coordinating, and executing not only propaganda operations but separatist and even violent terrorist actions.
But for the videos on his cell phone, the latter part of the adversary agenda would not have surfaced. The probe also showed that Asif Naik had been given secret login credentials to the Kashmir Media Service (KMS), the mouthpiece of the United Jihad Council for Kashmir and its web portal in Pakistan.
Besides this, his arrests also indicated that Pakistan’s ISI was planning to revive militancy in the Chenab Valley and Jammu region by targeting prominent persons of a particular community and creating terror among that community members, the officials said.