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Two held in Mumbai terror investigation

Praveen Swami

Neither man found to be directly linked to perpetrators, police say

NEW DELHI: Kolkata Police investigators have held two suspects they believe were involved in the purchase of mobile phone SIM cards used in last month’s fidayeen attack in Mumbai.

Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmad, a constable stationed with the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch, was held along with Kolkata resident Tausif Rehman. Police sources, however, told The Hindu that neither man appeared to be linked to the perpetrators.

Through traders

Ahmad, the sources said, had sourced dozens of Vodafone and Aircel SIM cards for sale to Kashmiri traders travelling to Kolkata on business. Finding themselves unable to obtain pre-paid local phone connections because of the suspicion attached to ethnic-Kashmiri visitors to many Indian cities, the traders paid Ahmad a cash premium on cards he sourced through Rehman.

Married to a woman of Bengali origin, Ahmad had worked as an auto-rickshaw driver in Kolkata until he joined the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2002.

If Ahmad’s account of his activities proves correct, it is likely that three of the SIM cards he procured were passed on by his clients to a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Hindu had, last week, broken news that the terrorists had used six SIM cards, purchased in New Delhi and Kolkata, to communicate with their handler — a top Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba operative known only by the code-names ‘Muzammil,’ ‘Yusuf’ and ‘Abu Hurrera.’ All these calls were routed through commercial voice-over-internet service.

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