In what may be a major security breach, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) seized a mobile phone last week from an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, lodged in high-security Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu for the past 18 months for his alleged involvement in over a dozen incidents of weapons dropping through drone from Pakistan.
Jail officials have lodged an FIR at Gharota police station in this regard, sources said, adding that three other mobile phones were later found abandoned on the ground inside the jail premises during searches. A separate FIR has been registered in that connection as well.
Identified as Habib of Haria Chak in Kathua district, he was among the three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in July 2022 after the latter claimed to have busted a terror module. The J-K Police had said the module had received at least over a dozen consignments of arms and ammunition dropped by drones in areas along the international border in Samba and Kathua districts which were then supplied to militants in Kashmir.
The other two militants arrested in the case are Faisal Muneer of Talba Khatikan and Mian Sohail of Kathua.
Habib was charge-sheeted in January 2023 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) who later took over investigations in the case from J-K Police.
Sources said the module was working at the behest of a Pakistan-based militant Bashir Sajjad who hailed from J-K’s Doda district. Habib and Mian Sohail collected weapons and other drone droppings, including cash, from near the border and handed them over to Muneer. Muneer kept them at his Talab Khatikan residence before their supply to militants operating in Kashmir.
An AK-47 rifle, five pistols, along with two silencers and 15 magazines, eight grenades, a weighing machine and a large quantity of ammunition were seized at the instance of Muneer after his arrest. He was also arrested earlier in connection with a case of militant attack.
The terror module was responsible for receiving arms, ammunition, and explosives airdropped in Jammu by drones from Pakistan and transporting them to militants in Kashmir, said the source. They had received more than 15 drone sorties of arms, ammunition and explosives during the past two-and-half years.
Confirming the seizure of a mobile phone from a LeT militant lodged inside the high-security jail, a senior police officer told The Indian Express that the phones appear to have been already there inside the jail premises. The officer added these are now being seized after the CISF took over the security of the prison from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in October last year.
In November last year, the CISF had informed the police about the seizure of nearly 12 grams of heroin concealed in a ball found inside the prison grounds.