Srinagar: A youth from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district was arrested by the sleuths of Special Cell from New Delhi for allegedly planning to assassinate a hardliner Hindu priest who had made derogatory remarks against the Prophet of Islam last month.
Senior police officials said John Mohammad Dar, a resident of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir, was apprehended from a hotel in Paharganj here along with a pistol and two magazines as well as with saffron clothes, allegedly for using it as a cover to gain entry into the temple situated in Ghaziabad neighbouring Delhi.
Dar, according to the police, wanted to assassinate Dasna Devi temple’s head priest Swami Yati Narsinghanand. The police claimed to have recovered a 30 bore pistol, two magazines, 15 live rounds, one saffron kurta, one white ‘pajama’, a ‘kalawa’ and wooden beads from his possession.
On April 3, Narsinghanand made blasphemous remarks against Prophet of Islam during a during a press conference organised by Akhil Bharatiya Sant Parishad (Ghaziabad) at the Press Club of India.
Following outrage and a complaint from AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan, the Delhi Police had registered an FIR in April against the rightwing Hindu leader for allegedly hurting the sentiments of a community.
Last month, Narsinghanand and Dasna Devi Mandir were in news after a 14-year-old Muslim boy who went inside to have water was assaulted by the priest’s disciple.
During interrogation, Dar told the police that he is a carpenter by profession and was booked by the Sangam police station in Anantnag for stone pelting during 2016 protests triggered by Hizb commander Burhan Wani’s death, police said.
He had come across a man named Abid while roaming in his fields in December last year who had informed him that he was from Pakistan and associated with Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), police said.
They became good friend and met twice after that — first in December 2020 and then in April 2021. They also were constantly in touch with each other on WhatsApp, police said.
In February, he, along with his sister and her father-in-law, came to Delhi for treatment of his nephew who has some heart ailment. They stayed at a guest house near Jama Masjid, police said.
When he returned to Kashmir after the treatment of his nephew, Abid assigned him with the task to assassinate Swami Narsinghanand, saying the head priest of the temple had committed ‘Gustakh-e-Rasool’, officials said.
Abid taught him weapons handling and gave Rs 6,500 cash. Abid also transferred Rs 35,000 in Dar’s account. Thereafter, Abid asked Dar to go to Delhi and procure weapon from one of his sources, police said.
Abid promised Dar that he would be paid a substantial amount for carrying out the assassination. Abid informed that a person named Umar will take care of him in Delhi, police said.
On April 23, the accused left for Delhi. Dar and Umar kept in touch with each other through an app named Telegram. Umar was supposed to arrange his recce and stay in Delhi and also to provide access to Yati Narsinghanand to carry out his killing, officials said.
Dar met Umar in Jama Masjid area who shifted him to a hotel in Paharganj. Umar also brought the puja items and saffron dress as a cover to gain entry in the temple, police said.
Later, he, along with Umar, received the arms from another person on a flyover near his hotel, police said.
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