The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested a serving jail superintendent Firoz Ahmed Lone in connection to its investigation of terrorist recruitment operations run by Hizbul Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir. The network was allegedly active in recruiting and sending young men from the valley across the LoC for training in terror camps.
NIA arrested 2 people in a case pertaining to 2 individuals travelling to PoK for arms training, it was found that the deputy superintendent of the Srinagar Jail was the one who helped the main accused hatch the conspiracy @NikunjGargN shares exclusive details #IndiaBetrayed pic.twitter.com/oMIT975f2x
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) August 29, 2018
Firoze Ahmed Lone was reportedly the facilitator of meetings and communication between convicted terrorists and new recruits. According to reports, while Lone was the deputy superintendent of Srinagar jail, he helped the arrested Hizbul recruits Suhail Ahmed Bhat and Danish Ghulam Lone meet convicted Hizbul terrorist Ishak Palla who was lodged in Srinagar jail at that time. Firoz Ahmed Lone, being the jail authority, reportedly not only allowed the recruits to meet Palla but also arranged for them to remain in touch via Blackberry phones and WhatsApp groups. Palla is reportedly an over ground worker (OGW) for Hizbul Mujahideen group.
NIA had arrested the recruits Bhat and Danish Ghulam Lone back in October along with 4 OGWs of Hizbul named Ali Mughal, Liyaqat Ali, Ghulam Nabi Mughal and Harun Ahmed. While conducting an investigation, NIA reportedly learned that Bhat and Lone had met Ishak Palla inside Srinagar jail itself just a few days prior with the help from Dy superintendent Lone. The six were arrested from the Manigah village near the LoC trying to exfiltrate into PoK. Incriminating material including maps of sensitive areas near LoC, Hizbul posters and phones were recovered from them. They had revealed later that after meeting Palla in Srinagar jail, they were put in contact with PoK handlers and the PoK handlers had activated the OGWs in Kupwara to facilitate their exfiltration.
Firoz Ahmed Lone had been transferred and was currently posted in the Amphalla prison in Jammu.
It is notable here that the Srinagar jail long been a hotbed for terrorist activities and the involvement of the staff and other officials is suspected. In March 2018, the NIA had raided Srinagar jail and had recovered jihadi material, mobile phones and many Hizbul Mujahideen posters. The raid too was part of the investigation the NIA launched after Lone and Bhat were arrested with the OGWs in Kupwara in October. It was suspected that an active network of recruitment, radicalisation and facilitation of exfiltration to PoK was being run from inside the Srinagar jail.