Hakripora, Pulwama: Early Tuesday morning, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested a father-daughter duo for their alleged involvement in the February 2019 Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The individuals, 50-year-old Tariq Ahmed Shah and his 23-year-old daughter Insha Jan, are accused of “facilitating” militants at their resident and providing them with food and logistics. Among the militants they allegedly sheltered were 19-year-old Adil Dar, the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant who carried out the suicide bombing.
The arrests, in particular that of the young woman, sent Hakripora village into disbelieving silence and mourning. When ThePrint visited the village Tuesday, their relatives and neighbours protested their innocence, while women sat on the porch of their under-construction one-storey house and wept.
Also read: One year of Pulwama attack: All suspects dead, no clue still how explosives reached Kashmir
‘Militants visited our residence’
Family members said militants did visit their residence more than a year ago, but added that they had no links to them or their activities.
“We told the NIA that militants used to visit our residence more than one-and-a-half years ago. We didn’t think it will be used against us,” Tariq Shah’s wife Naseem told ThePrint.
“We are simple people. My husband and son both drive trucks to support the family. We thought the NIA understands the fact that a family like ours, living in a remote part of Pulwama, cannot say no to gun-wielding men when they ask to enter your home. Even when police enters our homes with rifles, we are in no position to stop them.”
The NIA’s statement said Tariq Shah had disclosed to the agency that his house was used by “Adil Ahmed Dar (fidayeen), Mohammad Umar Farooq, a Pakistani terrorist and IED maker, Kamran, another Pakistani terrorist (both were later killed in encounters with security forces), Sameer Ahmed Dar, a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist from Pulwama, and Mohammad Ismail, a Pakistani terrorist”.
Sameer Dar was arrested last month after a gun battle between security forces and freshly-infiltrated Jaish militants in Jammu’s Nagrota area. Dar, who has a home in Pulwama, is accused of ferrying militants from the International Border towards Kashmir.
“My husband and daughter are innocent. We had nothing to do with the attack,” said Naseem.
Relatives and neighbours described Insha, who has studied until class 9, as a shy and “weak-hearted” girl. She would stay home all day, they said.
Naseem’s sister, who was among the visitors said: “Around 20 vehicles comprising of police, CRPF, Army and NIA came in the morning and took them away. When they were being taken, they wept inconsolably.”
Also read: CRPF pays homage to Pulwama attack troopers, soil from homes of slain men offered as tribute
NIA team had visited Saturday
The family told ThePrint that a team from the NIA, along with local police officers, had visited their home for two days before arresting Shah and his daughter.
“They first came Saturday evening and checked the entire home. They left at 2am and kept on telling us that we provided shelter to militants. They came again Sunday and told us to report to Pulwama police station next morning,” said Naseem.
She said the family had only one mobile phone — a non-smart phone — that the NIA confiscated, along with flooring sheets, curtains, and even Insha’s pheran (traditional Kashmiri attire).
Naseem also insisted that the father and daughter had no criminal record. “I don’t know why this is happening to us?”
Also read: More Pulwama-style attacks, poisoning bids — intel inputs warn of lethal summer in J&K