Srinagar: One of the SIM cards recovered from the mobile phone of suspected Pakistani terrorist Bilal Bhai alias Haidar, killed in the controversial 15 November Hyderpora encounter, is registered in the name of Abdul Latief Magray, father of alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba overground worker Amir who also died in the same encounter, ThePrint has learnt.
A police source said Amir Magray also received money from “dubious sources” in the UPI account linked to his father’s name.
“This establishes the fact that Amir was facilitating the foreign terrorist. He had arranged SIM cards for the terrorist,” said the source. “The mobile that was recovered from the pocket of Bilal Bhai, after he was killed, had two SIM cards — one is registered in the name of Amir’s father and one in Amir’s name. That (father’s) SIM also had a UPI account, in which Amir was receiving funds,” the source said.
Abdul Latief Magray is an assistant lineman in the Jammu and Kashmir Jal Shakti Department, who was given a bravery award in 2012 by the then-state’s administration for killing a militant. He has said his son is innocent.
Bilal and Amir were among four people killed in the Hyderpora encounter. The other two have been identified as Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Mudassir Gul. The former has been identified as a businessman, but police have alleged that they have “sufficient digital evidence” like chats and call records to show Gul was a “militant associate… harbouring and facilitating militants”.
According to police, the encounter followed “specific inputs about the presence of terrorists in an illegal call centre rented for business in a private building”. The building is believed to have been owned by Altaf Ahmad Bhat and rented by Gul.
The two civilians, police said, had “accompanied the search party” to show the “suspect call centre in the building”, where the terrorists were operating from, and were killed in a “crossfire”.
There was further controversy when police took the four bodies and buried them in a cemetery at Handwara, 70 km away.
Protests across Kashmir forced police to exhume the bodies of Gul and Bhat last Thursday for a proper burial by the families, but Amir’s has not been returned. The family was reportedly offered a partial exhumation to have a last glance at his body — but they rejected it.
The family of Bhat has raised questions about the operation, alleging that he was used as a human shield, while Gul’s wife has urged police to strip his name of the “militant associate” tag.
The police source quoted above told ThePrint that they have CCTV footage from inside the building to establish an association between Bilal and Amir. Clips discovered from the camera, the source said, show Amir making the bed for Bilal, and eating food with him.
Just a day before the Hyderpora encounter, the source added, Bilal had opened fire at a policeman in the Nawa Kadal area, but managed to escape from the spot.
“We have accessed CCTV footage in which the two can clearly be seen. Amir had been staying with Bilal for weeks together,” said the source. “The entire CCTV footage will help us ascertain the number of days Bilal stayed with Amir here. There is enough CCTV footage to show how Mudassir was not just harbouring but facilitating Bilal.”
‘Pakistan terrorist was a sharpshooter’
Police suspect Bilal had been in Srinagar for the past six months. The J&K Police source said he is believed to have entered India two years ago from the Bandipora sector through Gurez and stayed in North Kashmir for 1.5 years. He came in contact with Amir when he arrived in Srinagar, the source added.
Bilal was allegedly a “sharpshooter” and had a good hold on “pistol firing”.
On the day of the encounter, the source said, Bilal was inside a room, and was killed when he came out firing indiscriminately from a 9 mm pistol.
“He had a very good hold over the pistol. Investigation has revealed that he was even training a lot of hybrid militants (militants without a police record) in pistol firing online,” the source added. “This training was not given physically, but online.”
The source claimed Bilal was identified as the suspect for the Nawa Kadal shooting as he was wearing the same jacket and shoes on 15 November.
“This is what helped us identify that he was the same man who opened fire at our policeman on 14 November. After firing at the police, he escaped into a bylane,” said the source. “We also have CCTV footage from that lane, which shows him walking with a pistol in his hand, wearing the same hoodie jacket and shoes with a white line.”
The source said it was Gul who helped Bilal flee the spot. There are chats between Amir and Mudassir, the source alleged, that say, “Bilal bhai ko bahar nikalna hai (we have to help Bilal Bhai escape).”
“After Bilal escaped the spot, he went to the Hyderpora property of Mudassir and we have CCTV footage in which Amir is seen with Bilal inside a room,” the source said.
‘Call centre — a suspected TRF hideout’
Police suspect The Resistance Front (TRF) — a Lashkar offshoot — was operating from the aforementioned call centre, which was being run by Dr Mudassir Gul, the source said.
The pamphlets released by them, owning up to terror attacks in the Valley, were being designed here, the source added.
After the encounter, police said in a statement that they seized six computers from as many cabins. The computers were VOIP (voice-over-internet-protocol)-enabled, and the seizures included records of various foreign numbers, as well as diaries with alpha, beta, gamma codes.
The police source said the call centre had no required permission but had employees.
“The call centre was not attached to any registered company, nor were its employees verified by local police. No one knows what they did and thus it becomes suspicious,” said the source. “It had a few employees and we will be questioning them. All the devices that were seized have been sent to the FSL lab in Delhi and their reports are awaited.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)