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NIA attaches property of Al-Umar Mujahideen chief Mushtaq Zargar in Nowhatta

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Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday attached the property of Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, who along with two others was released in exchange of passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999, officials said here.

An NIA spokesperson said that Zargar alias ‘Latram’ was wanted in “several terror-related cases, including the kidnapping of the daughter of the then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed in 1989.”

Terming it a “major offensive against terrorists operating from Pakistani soil”, the spokesperson said that Zargar’s two marlas (544 sq feet) house (Khasra No. 182) at Ganai Mohalla, Jama Masjid, Nowhatta, Srinagar, has been attached under the provisions of stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

“The procedure was carried out today by a team of the NIA along with the representative of district administration and local police. Zargar is a ‘Designated Individual Terrorist’ under the UAPA and has been operating from Pakistan ever since his release and funding terror activities in the valley,” the spokesperson said.

The NIA team pasted the notice of attachment on his house in presence of Zargar’s sisters. After the NIA and police teams departed, the sisters “unsuccessfully attempted to create a commotion but returned to their houses after no one joined them”.

Zargar, after breaking ranks with banned JKLF in late 1990, had formed Al-Umar Mujahideen terror group “that was responsible for several barbaric killings in downtown Srinagar,” officials said.

Hailing from the downtown city and a coppersmith by profession before joining terror ranks, Zargar was arrested in 1992. His name was found in the list of terrorists to be exchanged for passengers of 1999 IC-814 hijacking of Indian Airlines plane and he was subsequently released and taken by the then External Affairs Minister of BJP-led government Jaswant Singh to Kandahar in Afghanistan on December 31, 1999.

Zargar’s name, according to security experts, “was included by perpetrators sitting in Pakistan only to project the hijacking as an indigenous act of Kashmiri terrorists.”

The others released included Masood Azhar, one of the founders of Harkat-ul-Ansar group and now heading banned Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group, and Sheikh Omar, a highly radicalised terrorist who is at present on a death row in Pakistan for killing American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Zargar, after being exchanged at Kandahar airport, shifted his base to Muzaffarabad town from where he attempted to revive Al-Umar Mujahideen.

“He has also been involved in other heinous crimes, including murders, and has close association with other terror outfits such as Al-Qaeda and Jaish-e-Mohammed,” officials said.

Zargar was designated as a terrorist under the UAPA in April last year, a move which enabled the security agencies to attach his property.

The home ministry notification last year said “Zargar is a threat to peace, not only to India but around the world, with his contacts and proximity to radical terrorist groups like the Al-Qaeda and Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Central government believes that he is involved in terrorism.”

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