In a major anti-terror operation, the Mumbai police have arrested two men suspected to be linked with terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and allegedly involved in circulation of fake Indian currency, police said on Tuesday.
They had also carried out a recce of various vital installations across the country.
One of them was in close contact with his handlers in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and also with intelligence agencies of the neighbouring country, police said.
Farooq Naiku, 37, and Mohammed Talukdar, 32, were apprehended on January 16 from a guest house in Masjid Bunder, south Mumbai, with fake notes having a face value of Rs 27,200, Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Himanshu Roy said. They were produced before a local court the next day and remanded in police custody till January 23.
Since the duo was involved in terror activities, they would be booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, police said.
During interrogation of the accused, it was revealed that Farooq was an active member of Hizbul Mujahideen, a PoK-based terror outfit active in Jammu and Kashimri, and was operating mainly in the border state, Roy said.
Farooq, born and brought up in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla district, has been staying in neighbouring Navi Mumbai for last one-and-a half-year, posing as a dry fruits trader.
Farooq and Mohammed were actively involved in fake currency circulation, narcotics trade, hawala and terror activities, he claimed.
Farooq was staying in Kopar Khairane, a Navi Mumbai suburb, and selling dry fruits at APMC market imported from Pakistan, Afghanistan and JK.
Some CDs, computer CPU and hard disks were seized after a thorough search at his residence, police said.
Farooq has been to Pakistan and PoK via Wagah border on several occasions since 2001. Officially, he has crossed the Indo-Pak border three times, they said. He has been in contact with handlers of Hizbul Mujahideen and also Pakistan's intelligence agencies. The accused has provided specific addresses of his handlers in Pakistan and his visit dates, police said.
Farooq had been reporting to a "commander" of the terror organisation in Jammu and Kashmir and also took part in the agitation over the Amarnath land transfer controversy in the state a few years ago, police said.
Farooq was an expert in photography, computer operations and other communication modes and underwent training in Pakistan. He has allegedly photographed several vital installations, national assets and Indian Army installations in JK, besides deployment of troops at Baramulla and along the LoC.
"We have evidence that he has photographed Uri Dam, Uri power project, Baramulla bridge and graves of terrorists killed during operations by security forces," said Roy.
"Farooq has been tasked with gathering information related to Indian troops' movements in JK, public protests and other developments. He passed on the information either through telephonic conversations, mails or by crossing the border, to his Pakistani handlers and intelligence agencies. He had even attempted to infiltrate into the Indian Army," he said.
Explaining the modus operandi, police said Farooq would save mails as drafts in his e-mail account. He would then give the password to his handlers in Pakistan, who used to open them. For this, Farooq used Skype and Ringa softwares. He received money through a financial company in Srinagar.
He used to import dry fruits from Muzaffarabad, Rawalpindi, Kandahar and Kabul, police said, adding the money he earned through the business went to the terror group.
The second accused Talukdar, who hails from Assam, is also suspected to be an active member of the terror outfit and had been helping Farooq in fake currency operations. "We are ascertaining Talukdar role in detail," Roy said, adding that the police were trying to find out if the accused had played any role in the last August's violence in Azad Maidan in Mumbai.