‘Alam was not criminally linked to militant group’

Jammu and Kashmir police constable Khurshid Alam, who, it has emerged, was never questioned when he reportedly surfaced as a suspect in cross-LoC drug trafficking in his home State, may prove to be a prize catch for the Delhi Police.

Investigations are under way, both in New Delhi and J&K, to identify and arrest the other members of the network who are believed to have taken the security agencies for a ride and put a spanner in the cross-LoC trade. Several of the actors are said to have been closely linked to senior police and Army officials who ignored reports of their involvement in drug trafficking.

Alam’s disappearance from his battalion headquarters of Shopian coincided with the recovery of 114 kg of ‘brown sugar’ from a PoK driver’s truck in Uri on January 17.

He had told his father Azizur Rehman that he was proceeding to Ajmer on 12 days’ leave.

Arrested in Delhi on January 20, Alam reportedly admitted to supplying 80 kg of heroin at the instance of his ‘handler’ Fayyaz, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant based in Abbotabad (NWFP), Pakistan.

According to DCP Sanjeev Yadav, Fayyaz had been active in Ganderbal till 2006. He had remained linked to Assadullah, a Pakhtun militant from NWFP who was killed with four members of his group at Prang, Kangan, on August 30, 2013.

J&K police officials claim they have no knowledge of anyone called Fayyaz. They said two of Alam’s “distant relatives,” Fayyaz Khan and Dawood Khan, left their ethnic Pakhtun neighbourhood of Gutlibagh for PoK in 1992. They never returned. They figure in an index with no criminal case registered against them.

“There’s one FIR against Alam for a quarrel with his neighbours,” Ganderbal’s Superintendent of Police Shahid Meraj Rather told TheHindu. Mr. Rather, whose team was part of the joint operation with the Army when Assadullah was killed, insisted that Alam was “not criminally linked” to the group. He said the militants were killed within a week of their landing in the Ganderbal area.

“The Pashtun militants sometimes contact the Pathans of Gutlibagh. Both groups speak Pashto. They sometimes stay there for a day or have dinner. That necessarily doesn’t establish a criminal linkage. But we are investigating,” Mr. Rather said.

Residents, however, insist that the Delhi Police’s claim may not be completely wrong. “Alam’s contact with the Assadullah group was no secret in the Army and police. But it is difficult to say whether he was stalked by the forces to reach Assadullah’s hideout or if he acted as an informant,” said one of his neighbours in Chhanhaar mohalla.