NIA Quizzes Congress Leader Saroori

Senior Congress leader and former minister G M Saroori - File Pic

JAMMU - The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday questioned senior Congress leader and former minister G M Saroori in connection with its probe into militant attacks in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Saroori, 67, who is Jammu and Kashmir Congress vice president and three-time legislator from Inderwal constituency of Kishtwar, was served a notice under Section 160 CrPC by the NIA, asking him to appear before it to answer "certain questions" relating to a case registered by the probe agency in the district in 2018.

"The questioning lasted for nearly one-and-a-half hour from 3.30 pm and my father assured full support to the NIA in its probe. He reached the office at the scheduled time at 11 am but the investigating officer was late," Shariq Saroori, the son of the Congress leader said.

Shariq said his father made it clear to the NIA that his family is nationalist by core and their house is guarded by the CRPF round-the-clock, when he was asked about the disclosure made by some arrested persons that someone was dropped in a lane leading to their house.

Earlier, G M Saroori said he does not know why he was summoned by the NIA.

"I was outside and had reached Jammu this morning. Do you think I have any connection with Hizbul Mujahideen or Osama (a slain militant)," he told reporters outside the NIA office.

The communally sensitive Kishtwar had been rocked by a series of militancy incidents since November 2018 after the hilly district was declared militancy-free over a decade ago. The longest surviving Hizbul Mujahdeen militant, Mohammad Amin Bhat alias "Jehangir Saroori", is dubbed as the brain behind the revival of militancy in the district.

Militants shot dead senior BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar on November 1, 2018, while RSS functionary Chanderkant Sharma and his PSO were assassinated on April 9, 2019.

The militants also snatched the service rifle of the deputy commissioner's PSO on March 8, 2019, and the rifle of the PSO of the People's Democratic Party district president on September 13 last year.

The NIA is investigating the cases.

The first major success against militancy in the district was registered on September 28 last year when security forces killed three ultras, including the mastermind behind the killings, Osama Bin Javed, in Ramban district.

In September last year, Saroori's brother Mohammad Shafi was among a dozen persons booked in two separate FIRs for their alleged links with Hizbul Mujahideen but was not arrested.

Shafi refuted having any links with the group and said the allegations against him were "politically motivated". He said he was open to a fair probe and hopeful that the truth would prevail.

"My father also raised the issue of my uncle (Shafi) with the investigating officer who clarified that he is not linked with Hizbul Mujahideen," Shariq claimed.

He said the Congress leader made it clear to the investigating officer that Hizbul Mujahideen militant (Bhat) is not linked with the family.

"Saroori was added to his alias after the BJP came to power in the erstwhile state in coalition with the PDP. Earlier he was only known by the code name of Jehangir. No question was asked about Osama," Shariq said quoting his father.


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