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LeM chief Hidayatullah recced Doval’s office, planned Pulwama-type blast

India's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval is high on the list of Pakistan-based terror organisations (IANS)

The dramatic arrest of two Kashmiri militants in Jammu last week has exposed purported plans of two Pakistan-based jihadist organisations to execute some high profile terror strikes in New Delhi and the Union Territory’s winter capital of Jammu. One of their prime targets, according to the senior security and intelligence officials, was the CISF-guarded office and residence of the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Both, Hidayatullah Malik of Sharathpora Shopian and Zahoor Ahmad Rather of Dooru Anantnag, had been hiding in Jammu’s Bhathindi neighbourhood—exactly where the detained and dismissed Deputy Superintendent of Police, Davinder Singh, had arranged for a safe house for the top Hizbul Mujahideen militant Syed Naveed Mushtaq alias Naveed Babu in the winter of 2019 and 2020.

Involved in the killing of three BJP workers and a Police constable in Kulgam district, Zahoor was arrested on Saturday, 13 February, by a team of the Jammu and Kashmir from the Bari Brahmna industrial area between Jammu and Samba. After a long association with militancy, including a visit to Pakistan and his surrender before the security forces on his return in 2006, Zahoor was working with The Resistance Front (TRF), which is believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.

Hidayatullah was arrested at a shopping mall in Kunjwani, on the outskirts of the winter capital on Saturday, 6 February. According to the Police, he had been operating as the chief of Lashkar-e-Mustafa (LeM), a front for Masood Azhar’s jihadist network of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Pistols and hand grenades are claimed to have been seized from the ‘commanders’.

Quoting Hidayatullah’s disclosures, The Hindustan Times reported on Saturday that the self-styled LeM had carried out a reconnaissance of Ajit Doval’s office on Sardar Patel Marg and other potential targets in the union capital in May 2019, three months before the NSA’s famous trip to Shopian on 7 August 2019 immediately after abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A. He had also recced some military installations close to the International Border in Jammu’s Samba sector.

India Narrative learned further from the well-placed official sources that Hidayatullah was subjected to sustained questioning by the sleuths of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu District Police. He has revealed that he was indoctrinated into militancy when he was doing B Sc Nursing in Kerala in 2017-18.

According to his interrogation report, Hidayatullah joined Hizbul Mujahideen on 31 July, 2019, as an over-ground worker but subsequently in February 2020 he shifted to the JeM. In August 2020, under instructions from Pakistan, he floated LeM as a front for the JeM. He has mentioned over a dozen of his close contacts, including his wife, as his “associates and facilitators” in planning and execution of subversive activities and all of them were being called for questioning.

If found involved in criminal acts, they too would be arrested and booked in case FIR number 15/2021 under Section 18 and 20 the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in which Hidayatullah has been booked by the Police Station of Gangyal.

Hidayatullah’s wife, Seeba, a resident of his Shopian area in South Kashmir and doing LLM with the University of Kashmir, has been arrested from her sister’s residence at Ustad Mohalla of Jammu and subjected to a sustained questioning by a team of the lady Police.

“We have found her involved in her husband’s subversive activities as a facilitator and, accordingly, booked her in a criminal case”, IGP Jammu Mukesh Singh said.

His IR says that Hidayatullah, with three JeM gunmen, namely Irfan Thokar, Umar Mushtaq and Rayees Mustafa, ambushed a cash van of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, JK01P-3839, near Tak Masjid in the Shopian township when it was on way to the main branch to deliver a cash, on 5 November, 2020.

The terror group looted cash worth over Rs 60 lakhs and reached its hideout in Shopian successfully. In January 2021, Hidayatullah moved to Jammu where he managed to hide in Bhathindi area for 2-3 weeks. He has revealed that he received some top ranking JeM terrorists from Pakistan and also sent one of such commanders back to that country.

With JeM’s Pakistani commander Waleed Bhai, Hidayatullah on 28 May, 2020, got 60 kg of explosives planted in a Hyundai Santro car for a Lethapora-type blast in Pulwama. However, it was signalled to halt near a security forces camp. The terrorists in the car jumped out and managed to escape amid firing from the security forces. The car was seized and the explosives were successfully detonated by the bomb disposal squad.

In the most sensational disclosure, Hidayatullah has narrated how he conducted a reconnaissance survey of the NSA Doval’s residence and office at Sardar Patel Bhawan in New Delhi and other high-value targets on the instructions of his Pakistan-based handler. He has revealed that on 24 May, 2019, he boarded a Delhi-bound Indigo flight at the Srinagar airport. In Delhi, he recorded a video of the NSA’s office, including the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) security detail there, and passed it on through WhatsApp to his Pakistan-based handler “Doctor”.

Hidayatullah returned to Srinagar by bus. He also admitted to have conducted reconnaissance of the Samba Sector border in Jammu in the summer of 2019, along with another terror facilitator, Sameer Ahmad Dar, who was arrested on 21 January, 2020, for his involvement with the Lethapora terror attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed. Two of Hidayatullah’s contacts have reportedly died in two separate encounters in Shopian and Sopore.

The LeM chief has also disclosed names, code names, and phone numbers of 10 of his contacts in Pakistan, including his handler. The J&K Police have passed the details to the security agencies who have accordingly reviewed surveillance and security of a number of the terrorists’ potential targets including the NSA’s office and residence.