Maharashtra-UP ATS cracks down on hawala network with ISI link

The city police arrested two hawala operators Javed Naviwala, 31, and Altaf Qureshi, 33, a day after the Uttar Pradesh anti-terrorism squad (ATS) smashed an espionage racket by arresting alleged Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) agent Aftab Ali from Faizabad on Wednesday.

In a joint operation conducted by the UP ATS, Military Intelligence and UP Intelligence, Aftab Ali was picked up from Faizabad, 120 km from here, this evening, IG ATS Aseem Arun said.

Sources said that a Pakistani agent who was based in Delhi named Meherban Ali had asked Naviwala to give money to Aftaab Ali. Officials of the ATS have recovered a mobile phone and Rs 71.57 lakh in cash from Qureshi's residence in Mumbai.

The ATS, reports said, was interrogating another suspect to establish further links. "The people residing in Dorji have good reasons to be in touch with the people in Pakistan". Accordingly, Qureshi transferred Rs15,000 to Ali's account, said the ATS official. They have been checking the accused's call records to find out more about their contacts in Pakistan, added the official.

Qureshi had allegedly deposited money in the bank account of Aftab Ali who was arrested in Faizabad yesterday.

Aftab was also allegedly keeping a close vigil on troop movement in the area, especially between Faizabad and Lucknow and deployment of Army battalions.

"The group, allegedly trained by Pakistan's ISI, has reportedly been asked to target Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, and the Taj Mahal in Agra", UP police said.

"Qureshi was the paid employee of Naviwala, who is involved in hawala trade since 2009".

The police said Naviwala had migrated to Mumbai from Dhoraji area in Gujarat's Rajkot district.

The ATS got cracking after UP Police recently issued a warning of a possible terror attack in the State by ISI-trained ultras.

An official said the arrests were made in a joint operation by anti-terrorism squads of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, PTI reported. A Khurasan module was unearthed after Saifullah's death in March.

  • Aubrey Nash