‘India to seek details on JeM militant from Pakistan citing 32-yr-old Commonwealth pact’
Srinagar/New Delhi, Aug 05: India plans to invoke a 32-year-old Commonwealth pact to seek details from Pakistan about Mufti Waqas, a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant, who was killed by government forces in March this year, according to officials.
The move is also expected to help India in making a fresh appeal to the United Nations to get the JeM and its chief Maulana Masood Azhar banned under the Security Council resolution 1267. China has blocked previous moves by India seeking a ban on the JeM and Azhar.
According to officials in the Union Home and External Affairs ministries, the relevant papers were being readied to send a request to Pakistan under the Commonwealth pact for international cooperation in criminal matters, under which Commonwealth nations are bound to provide Mutual Legal Assistance on such issues, they said.
The agreement was originally adopted by Commonwealth law ministers at their meeting at Harare in Zimbabwe in 1986.
Citing this pact, India will seek details from Pakistan about Mufti Waqas, who was killed in an encounter in March this year with government forces at Awantipura in south Kashmir, the officials said.
The details include phone numbers dialed by Waqas before and after the militant attack on the Sunjawan Army camp on February 10 in which six soldiers, one civilian and three militants were killed.
Citing the amendments made to the Harare agreement during the meeting of law ministers in 2011 at Sydney in Australia, India will, if necessary, also seek details of the recording of statements of possible witnesses through video calls, they said.
In 2011, Commonwealth law ministers adopted amendments to the Harare pact envisaging cooperation in some new provisions that related to the interception of telecommunications and postal items, covert electronic surveillance, use of live video links in the course of investigations and judicial procedures and asset recovery.
Waqas, a Pakistani national who had infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley in 2017, was the operational commander of the JeM. Besides being described as the “mastermind” of the Sunjawan Army camp attack, security officials say Waqas was also behind the suicide attack on a CRPF camp in south Kashmir’s Lethpora on the intervening night of December 30 and December 31 last year.
According to officials, he was functioning as the operational commander of the militant outfit and had even despatched ‘fidayeens’ or suicide bombers from Tral in south Kashmir to Jammu. It was then that the fidayeens had carried out their strike on the Army camp in Sunjawan.
Waqas is also suspected to be responsible for “radicalizing” local boys Fardeen Khandey and Manzoor Baba. The two boys had carried out the suicide attack on the Lethpora CRPF camp in December last year.