Uttar Pradesh police said on Friday that two men believed to be connected to Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) have been arrested from Deoband in Saharanpur.
The two men, who were nabbed by the UP Anti-Terror Squad on Thursday, hail from Kashmir.
UP Police DGP, OP Singh, said that one of the arrested men is Shahnawaz Ahmad, a resident of Kulgam, while the other is Pulwama’s Aqib Ahmad Malik. Both are between 20 and 25 years of age.
The police also found two weapons and live cartridges in their possession.
“Yesterday, after inputs, two suspected terrorists were caught from Saharanpur by our ATS wing. They are linked to JeM and both are from Kashmir,” DGP Singh said.
“Of the two Shahnawaz is said to be a grenade expert. We will seek transit remand and investigate when they came here from Kashmir and who is funding them and what was their target,” he said adding that the UP Police is in touch with the J-K Police.
According to reports, the two were living in a hostel in Deoband allegedly posing as students. The ATS received inputs about them following which a raid was conducted in the rooms occupied by them.
The private hostel, Naaj Manzil, is occupied by a large number of Muslim students who study in different educational institutions of Deoband.
In the post-midnight action the ATS rounded up at least seven students of Odisha and Kashmir for interrogation.
Circle officer of Deoband area Rajendra Singh confirmed that that some were rounded up but refused to divulge any further information .
He however said that after Pulwama attack similar checking are being conducted on the basis of availability of intelligence inputs.
The DGP said that the ATS has recovered video clips and messages from their mobiles, which would be sent for forensic examination.
The arrest of the two men comes after the 14 February Pulwama terror attack in which 44 CRPF personnel were killed.
“It is difficult to say whether the two men came before the Pulwama attack or after that… we have evidence of Jaish connections that we can’t share right now,” Singh said.
Reacting to the arrest, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya told ANI that the arrest sends a “message to the enemies of the nation that terrorists will not be able to hide anymore”.
Sources said that at least 5 students from Odisha, too, were taken into custody.
The hostel students, however, claimed that 12 students were taken away for interrogation. They expressed strong displeasure in the manner the hostel was raided in midnight.
They said that they are always ready for any kind of verification and interrogation but disapproved of the raid.