Agencies identify 10 Pakistan-based terrorists involved in smuggling

Central agencies have identified 10 Pakistan-based terrorists, who had crossed over from India, set up businesses across the border with active support from the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, and were involved in funneling weapons, narcotics and fake currency through cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) official with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

These terrorists were also sending funds to separatists in Jammu and Kashmir using the cross-LoC trade route in order to fuel unrest in the Valley, the official claimed.

Last week, India had suspended the cross-LoC trade at two points for an indefinite period, following reports that it was being misused by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency.

The LoC trade across ChakanDa-Bagh and Salamabad was intended as a confidence-building measure for the people living in J&K and in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Originally hailing from Kashmir valley, the terrorists have been identified as Basharat Ahmed Bhat, Shabbir Illahi, Showkat Ahmad Bhat, Noor Mohammad Ganai, Khurshid, Imtiyaz Ahmed Khan, Amir, Sayeed Ajay Ahmed Shah alias Aizaz Rehmani, Mehrajuddin Bhat and Nazir Ahmed Bhat.

They operate from Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Pakistan or Muzaffarabad in PoK and run businesses ranging from almonds, dry fruits to mangoes as part of their modus operandi to send money to the Valley on behalf of ISI, the NIA officer cited above added.

The anti-terror probe agency found out that these terrorists have set up firms in Pakistan and their relatives or associates on the Indian side allegedly run the business through LoC trade routes. A second official said, Mehrajuddin Bhat, a resident of Tral, had crossed over to Pakistan to train as a militant about a decade ago. He stays in Rawalpindi and has set up “Mehrajuddin Traders” to get involved in the cross-LoC trade, the official said. His brother is a registered LoC trader at the Trade Facilitation Centre at Uri, he added.

Nazir Ahmed Bhat, a resident of Pampore, stays in Islamabad and runs a business through his firms “New Kashmir Traders” and “New Kashmir Firm”, the second official said.

Basharat Ahmed Bhat and Showkat Ahmad Bhat, residents of Budgam, had gone to Pakistan during the 1990s and joined militancy, the NIA officials claimed. They both stay in Rawalpindi.

The officials said Basharat runs his business through the “Al Nasir Trading Company”, while Showkat’s trading firm is called “Taha Enterprises”.

“The channel of LoC trade, meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, was being exploited to fund illegal and anti-national activities in Jammu and Kashmir. Money was being transferred to terrorist organisations and anti-India elements by these traders,” said a home ministry official, who asked not to be named.

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