SRINAGAR, May 31: Last Thursday, two youths from Sopore were on their way home from Azamgarh, where they are studying, when they were picked up from the Kaifiyat Express while still in Uttar Pradesh.
The Jammu and Kashmir police said they have taken the two into custody and are bringing them home. They will release one of the youths but may detain the other, his cousin, for questioning over possible militancy links.
During the week in between, the J&K police cleared part of the haze around what had happened, saying it was they who had alerted their UP counterparts. “We had inputs that one of the arrested boys, Wasim Ahmad Bhat, was involved in some militant activities in Sopore,” said Imtiyaz Hussain, the SP of Sopore.
Wasim, 23, had once spent time in jail for militant links, a fact admitted by his family which insists, however, that he no longer maintains such links. He is the one police plan to detain.
“The other boy, Sajad Ahmad Bhat, 20, has no past militancy record,” said the SP. Police sources guessed that Sajad was picked up only because he was Wasim’s cousin.
“We have taken their custody and they are on their way back here. They will reach Srinagar by tomorrow and we will release Sajad but Wasim may be detained for questioning,” a police officer said.
Both youths are from Sopore’s Tarzoo village. They are studying at the Jamiat-ul-Falah at Azamgarh. The J&K police would not disclose which unit of the UP police or investigating agency had picked up the youths after their alert. There was no confirmation from any unit in UP either. IG, Crime Branch, G P Sharma, in fact, said the UP police have not picked up the two Kashmiri students.
The Jammu and Kashmir police had not informed even the youths’ families, the latter say. “My son Sajad called me some days ago and told me he was ill. I asked him to return home and bring Wasim along,” says his father Ghulam Rasool Bhat. “We came to know about their arrest when a local journalist newspaper called me.”
He confirmed Wasim’s previous arrest two years ago. “He was in jail for close to one year. After his release, he gave up militancy and went to study at Azamgarh. He was no longer associated with any militant group,” Ghulam Rasool Bhat said.
It is the second time in recent months that youths from Sopore have been picked up by police outside the state. The previous instance was over an alleged plot in the place of arrest itself. Sopore’s Ahtesham Malik and Tauseef Ahmad were arrested in New Delhi and charged by the Delhi police with planning attacks in the capital.
(The Indian Express)