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MP aspirant tied to PM base plot

New Delhi, July 2: Hazi Gulam Muhiuddin Dar could have been sitting in Parliament. Instead, he was arrested last night with three others for an alleged plot to attack the Palam air force base.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is scheduled to leave for the G8 summit in Scotland on Wednesday, uses this air base.

Delhi police, which said they had found a sketch of the air force station and an army combat uniform, claimed that Dar ' who is also known as Zahid ' and the others were planning a strike on the airstrip.

“They have disclosed that the air force station was one of several targets they had short-listed. They have already carried out one recce mission to the base,” deputy commissioner, southwest district, Ravindra Yadav said.

Besides Zahid, who had contested unsuccessfully against People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti from Pulwama in the 2004 general elections, the others arrested are Saqib Rehman alias Masood, 33, Basir Ahmad Shah, 47, and Nazir Ahmad Sofi alias Doctor Nazir, 37.

The arrests have come at a time when militants are feeling increasingly isolated because of the thaw in India-Pak relations. Security forces have been fearing loose-cannon, but high-profile, attacks aimed at derailing the peace process.

Police said the militants, from the Islamic Front, an outfit based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, were intercepted soon after they entered Delhi in a Tata Indica. A joint team of Delhi police (southwest) and military intelligence was lying in wait after getting information that Zahid and Masood would be travelling in a sky-blue Indica (HR 26S 0440) on National Highway 8 around 12.30 at night.

After a two-kilometre chase along the Delhi-Gurgaon border, the joint team brought the car to a halt. While Masood, who was sitting in the front, fired two rounds from his gun, Zahid alighted holding a live grenade, the police said. But they were overpowered.

Police sources said the arms seized from the militants included a Chinese pistol, 35 cartridges of AK-47 assault rifles, fake currency of Rs 50,000 and two cheques of Rs 9.5 lakh of J&K Bank. According to the police, the militants had got the arms from another militant Abdul Bhatt. Several calls from satellite phones were also recorded on their mobile phones, the deputy commissioner said.

The police said the four are residents of Srinagar and Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, where they were involved in looting banks, and had been living in and around Delhi for the last two or three months. They were also involved in circulation of fake currency.

According to the police, Zahid, an MPhil from Kashmir University, was a conduit for funds from the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and passed on information related to deployment of army and paramilitary units. Deputy commissioner Yadav said Zahid has been receiving large amounts of money from his mentors in Pakistan.

Masood, an ISI agent, was earlier associated with the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. He joined the Islamic Front in 2000 and learnt how to use arms in PoK.

Basir, a commerce graduate from Kashmir University, had opened a company called Jhelum Agro Forest Finance in Srinagar in 1995 and had collected Rs 80 lakh from investors by promising huge returns. He later went underground.

Nazir, who has a diploma as a medical assistant, joined them as he wanted to make easy money, the police said.

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