Shah was allegedly the BJP Minority Morcha's social media incharge in Jammu. He, along with one Faizal Ahmed Dar, were apprehended by villagers in Tuksan, Reasi district, as per the police. Two AK rifles, seven grenades, six sticky bombs, wer e recovered from the two, along with other arms and ammunition.
Talib Shah was allegedly appointed as the saffron party's IT and social media incharge in Jammu in the recent past.
"Mr Talib Hussain Shah, at Draj Kotranka, District Rajouri, shall be the new IT & Social Media incharge of BJP Minority Mocha Jammu Province with immediate effect," an purported order issued by the BJP Minority Morcha, J&K, on 9 May states.
Some pictures emerged on social media purportedly showing Shah with BJP leaders. One of the pictures shows J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina purportedly presenting him with a bouquet.
Another one, posted by J&K Congress, showed Talib Shah sharing a dais with Home Minister Amit Shah.
LeT commander Shah is a resident of Rajouri district and was the mastermind of the recent IED blasts in the district, officials said.
BJP Denies Shah Was IT Cell Head, Cong Demands High-Level Probe
BJP spokesperson Abhinav Sharma claimed the captured terrorist, Talib Hussain Shah of Rajouri, visited the party headquarters by posing as a reporter of a news portal under a conspiracy to conduct recce at the behest of his handlers across the border to target the party leadership.
He rejected claims that Shah was minority cell's IT in-charge in J&K and demanded that the security of the BJP office and leaders be strengthened.
"According to our official records, he was neither a primary member nor a basic member, so there is no question of being an active member," Sharma said.
"He visited our headquarters as a journalist of a news portal and interviewed our president (Ravinder Raina) who is well known for his nationalist views and for openly speaking against Pakistan and terrorists," the spokesperson asserted.
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded a high-level probe into the matter.
"That Shah was an active member of BJP's IT cell needs no proof but it is a matter of concern and a big security lapse," Congress working president and former minister Raman Bhalla told reporters.
"Shah's pictures with Raina and even with the home minister speak volumes about his association with the BJP which facilitated his induction into the party and also to a top post in the IT and media cell," Bhalla said and questioned the "failure of the intelligence agencies in detecting the presence of a terrorist in the BJP."
'Conspiracy by Pakistan': BJP
J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina termed the presence of Shah in his party as a "conspiracy hatched by Pakistan to target him and the party headquarters", as the state's Congress chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said the ruling party should answer the nation over the alleged presence of terrorists in their ranks and holding important party positions.
“He introduced himself as a journalist and took my interviews several times at my party office sometime back. He developed close liaison with party activists and leaders after coming to our headquarters (Trikuta Nagar, Jammu),” Raina told news agency PTI.
Raina claimed that he came to know from the security agencies that Shah was a mole planted by Pakistan-based terrorists to target BJP headquarters and the leadership including him.
Raina said terror organisations, frustrated by BJP’s expansion in Jammu and Kashmir, have repeatedly threatened him over in the past many years and since they failed to target him, they hatched a conspiracy to plant their member in the BJP to target him and other leaders of the party.
However, he said BJP is determined to wipe out Pakistan-sponsored terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir and “we will not be cowed down by threats or conspiracies”.
Reacting strongly, the Congress chief spokesperson said "this is for the first time that such a thing had happened (when an office bearer of a party is directly involved in terrorism)."
“The arrest of the duo is a big success for the security forces as a major conspiracy of Pakistan has been thwarted. I also came to know that he had shared the pictures of the BJP headquarters with his handlers across the border,” he said.
BJP Blames Online Membership
The BJP also placed the blame on the online membership process, which lets people join the party without being subjected to a background check.
"A new issue has come up with this arrest," party spokesman RS Pathania told NDTV.
"Across the border, there are those who want to spread terror. Now anyone can become a member of the BJP online. I'd say this is a drawback since there is no system to check the criminal record or antecedents of the people who are taking membership online," Pathania added.
Talib Shah was in constant touch with LeT terrorist Qasim based in Pakistan and was involved in at least three cases of IED blasts at Rajouri district besides civilian killings and grenade blasts,” the ADGP said after his arrest.
He said it was revealed during preliminary questioning that both the terrorists were also in touch with a Pakistani LeT handler Salman.
The arrest of the duo followed the unearthing of a module headed by Shah in Rajouri district on 28 June, which was behind the recent series of explosions in the district.
While two terror operatives of the outfit were arrested along with five Improvised Explosive Devices, Talib Shah was on the run and had moved towards the higher reaches into nearby Reasi district to escape the dragnet of security forces.
"I salute the bravery of villagers of Tukson Dhok, Reasi, who apprehended two most-wanted terrorists. Such determination by common man shows end of terrorism is not far away. UT Govt to extend Rs 5 Lakh cash reward to villagers for gallant act against terrorists and terrorism," Office of J&K Lieutenant General Manoj Sinha tweeted.
Both Udaipur Murderers & LeT Militant Have Active Links to BJP: Mehbooba Mufti
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (JKPDP) President and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti slammed the BJP government for using “criminal lumpen elements” to push the saffron party’s agenda of “communal division and hatred.”
She added that if the militants were associated with the Opposition party instead, the party would have filed multiple FIRs by now.
She tweeted, “First the Udaipur murderer and now an LeT militant caught in Rajouri both have active links to the BJP. The ruling party is using criminal lumpen elements be it cow vigilantes or terrorists to perpetuate their agenda of communal division and hatred.”
She added, “Imagine if any of these culprits were associated with any opposition leader. By now multiple FIRs would be lodged and godi media would lap it up by devoting endless prime time space to discredit the opposition.”
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav said that the matter should be thoroughly investigated.
He tweeted in Hindi, "The villagers in J&K have captured two LeT militants and one of them is associated with the BJP IT Cell. BJP's Minority Front President has himself admitted that. That terrorist had left BJP only two months back. This matter should be thoroughly investigated!"