Questions are being raised on whether Junaid Akram Malik, wanted by National Investigation Agency in connection with the Delhi high court blast, is alive.
The Jammu and Kashmir police is verifying reports emanating from Kishtwar town, 226 km from Jammu, that Junaid, on whom NIA has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh, is believed to have been killed by his own cadre of Hizbul Mujahideen terror group fearing that he may surrender.
"Yes, we are verifying the reports as they are emerging from credible sources now," highly-placed sources said on Wednesday.
The state police, which achieved a breakthrough in the September Delhi high court blast case by arresting the accused who had sent the email to media houses, has fanned several teams into the higher reaches for verifying the reports, the sources said.
In a discreet operation, a kin of Junaid, whose medico brother Wasim Akram Malik was arrested from Bangladesh after a probe by the state police, was engaged in pursuing the accused to surrender.
However, it has been more than three weeks that the communication with the kin has fallen silent as well and there was no mention about Junaid in the intercepts, the sources said.
Based on intelligence provided by local sources, both Junaid and the kin roped in for his surrender are believed to have been killed by Chota Hafeez, a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist and also an accused in Delhi high court blast.
Junaid was the younger brother of Wasim and NIA had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh on him. In its over 1,000 page chargesheet, the NIA had charged him with providing explosive material to two Pakistani nationals as well.
J&K home department had also warned NIA from making any publicity about Junaid but the central agency ignored the repeated pleas of the state police and not only published the pictures in newspapers but also pasted posters in Kishtwar town, the sources said.
A senior state police official, associated with the probe, said the case was cracked by the district police and it was mentioned that NIA should refrain from making public any conspirators as it could not only hamper the probe but also endanger the lives of the wanted people.
NIA, after failing to make much headway, had requested two officers including Deputy Inspector General of Police Muneesh Sinha and Superintendent of Police B S Tuti on short term deputation to the central organisation.
NIA Chief S C Sinha had sent the request to Director General of J and K Police Kuldeep Khoda who deputed Sinha for three weeks during which other accused were arrested in the case.