South Asia

A Kashmiri’s arrest in Pakistan sparks new concern

Gilani Manzil in Islamabad  

House number 563 on street 21 in the Jammu and Kashmir Society wears a desolate look.

The big light brown one-storied house, named Gilani Manzil, with its flashy mirror windows and its pretty blue floral awnings, is locked.

Two guards stand vigil over the house in Tarnol, a fast-growing suburb 22 kms from the capital.

On one side of the house, the narrow strip of lawn has been dug up. That is where the police searched for weapons and ammunition after they arrested Syed Mohammed Shoaib Andrabi in a raid on the premises.

Andrabi, who is now being investigated for suspected links with terrorists, is the nephew of Syed Asiya Andrabi, the founder chairperson of Dukhtaraan-e-Millat, the all-women Kashmiri Islamist separatist group .

On Saturday, a week after his arrest and police custody, an Islamabad court granted Shoaib judicial custody until September 28.

People in the neighbourhood are tight lipped about what they saw or heard about the raid. Few details are available. It took place around 1 am on September 7. The entire street was jammed with police cars.

Inspector Mohammed Ajmal Khan rang the doorbell and, according to the First Information Report, Shoaib opened the door.

According to the FIR, another person, later identified as Irtiyaz Un Nabi Gilani alias Sarfi, fired at the police as he escaped from the house.

Shoaib is the first son of Asiya Andrabi’s brother Zia-ul-Haq Andrabi. Irtiyaz, an aeronautical engineer, is Asiya Andrabi’s sister Rehana’s son. He and his younger brother Mujahid Gilani, a paediatric surgeon, lived in the house. Dr. Mujahid had a practice in the neighbourhood market. Their elder brother, Zulqarnain, a captain in the Pakistan Army, was an occasional visitor at Gilani Manzil.

Shoaib was the one, says the FIR who led them to the drum buried in the lawn in front of the house. Police had already noticed the suspicious hump on the lawn as they entered the house.

Machine guns, pistols, detonators and explosives were found in the drum and some explosive devices were defused by the bomb disposal squad.

On Saturday, his head covered with a scarf, the short bespectacled and disheveled Shoaib was produced in a civil court, which turned down the police request for five more days of physical custody of the young suspect. He has been charged with attempted murder, abetment and also for possession of arms and explosives.

While only Shoaib has been arrested and charged, Irtiyaz and Mujahid are missing. The police are not saying anything about their whereabouts or of their family’s.

The housing complex is not very old and has several sprawling houses; many more are under construction in the area, also known as G-15 sector. Behind the Gilani home is a huge patch of land overrun with tall grass and weeds. Not too many people, except construction workers, can be seen on the roads. The police are still keeping a close watch on the house.

Officials are not saying much on the record. But the police are said to be investigating the links between the young men and the weapons and explosives in their house with the August 5 attempted suicide bombing at a mosque in Bara Kahu, another Islamabad suburb, plus the discovery of a huge cache of explosives in a car in the same area.

If the links are established and proved, this could be the first time that Kashmiris are named in a terror plot in Pakistan. This is the first time a relative of a Kashmiri leader has been arrested.

Ershad Mahmud, writer and analyst on Kashmir issues says that though he has not studied this particular incident, there has been concern for some time about the increasing radicalisation of Kashmir youth and the impact of groups like al-Qaeda on them.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 2:03:54 PM |

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