STATE TIMES NEWS
Jammu/Srinagar: Four suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists were killed and two policemen injured in a gunbattle on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway after a truck carrying newly infiltrated militants was intercepted on the outskirts of Jammu city on Thursday, top police officials said.
The terrorists had come to execute a “big plan” which has now been foiled, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Jammu, Mukesh Singh, said.
Reacting to the success of the security forces, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said, “No outside force can derail us from our mission of peace and progress.”
In Srinagar, IGP, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the four terrorists were on their way to the Kashmir Valley to disturb the District Development Council (DDC) polls scheduled later this month, as Pakistan has been trying to cause trouble in the political process.
Giving details of the encounter, IGP Mukesh Singh told a press conference in Jammu that ever since the announcement of DDC polls, police have been receiving inputs about a possible infiltration bid by terrorists in Jammu.
“We had kept our all teams deployed at check points. There were intelligence inputs that militants may sneak in with large quantities of arms and ammunition,” the IGP Jammu said.
NIA sleuths begin probe; collect evidences
Hours after four JeM terrorists were killed at Ban Toll Plaza on the outskirts of Jammu city, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) began its probe into the matter.
A team of NIA sleuths visited the Nagrota encounter site on Thursday afternoon to collect forensic and other evidences. The NIA involvement in the probe into Nagrota encounter is important as Jammu and Kashmir Police said that the terrorists were probably planning a big attack and the upcoming District Development Council elections could also have been their target.
A truck was stopped at Ban toll plaza in Nagrota area at 5 am for checking, but the driver left the vehicle and fled, the police official said.
Immediately, CRPF and police personnel moved to search the vehicle and came under fire from the terrorists hiding in the truck.
According to the IGP Jammu, the terrorists were asked to surrender but they ignored the announcement leading to gunbattle.
Other security forces also joined in resulting in a fierce gunbattle in which terrorists lobbed grenades and fired arms, he said.
In the three-hour-long gunbattle, four terrorists were killed and two policemen injured, the police officer said, adding that the truck was exploded.
The truck, loaded with rice sacks, caught fire. The bodies of the terrorists, hiding in a cavity within the truck, were recovered.
The two injured policemen, Kuldeep Raj and Mohammad Ishaq Malik, were admitted to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu. They were out of danger, officials said.
A huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosive material, including 11 AK rifles, three pistols, 24 magazines, 29 grenades and six UBGL grenades, was recovered, the IGP, Jammu, said.
Besides, medicines, explosive material, bundle of wires, electronic circuits and bags in huge quantities were recovered from them.
Pak-made medicines, AK rifles, grenades recovered
‘Karachi-made’ medicines have been recovered from the truck that was blown up in the encounter at the Ban toll plaza in the wee hours of Thursday. The medicines are manufactured at Sector -22, Korangi Industrial area of Karachi.
Several packets of SURFI, Flagyl tablets and Dicloran 75 mg injection are among medicines recovered from the terrorists killed in truck explosion.
The arms recovery includes 6 AK 56 rifles, 5 AK 47 rifles, 1 UGBL gun, 3 wireless sets, 3 pistols, 9 empty AK magazines, 16 full Ak magazines, 7 bags, 1 RDX, 1 bundle of wire, 30 hand grenades, 3 battery cell, 6 blankets, 2 wrist watches, 2 RD remotes, 20-kilogram explosive material, 2 cutters, 4 raincoats, 4 pouches, codex wire 15 meters, 5 mobile phones, 2 compasses, 1 detonator and Rs 1.5 lakh currency.
According to police, the driver who was ferrying the terrorists is on the run. In a bid to nab the absconding truck driver, the security forces have launched a massive manhunt.
“This is for the first in the last few years that such a large quantity of weapons were recovered from slain terrorists,” Mukesh Singh said.
Asked about the motive of the terrorists, LG Sinha said given the quantity of weapons recovered from the slain terrorists, it seems that the group had infiltrated recently and were “planning something very big”.
“But their plan stands foiled,” he said, adding the operation was carried out jointly by the police, CRPF and the Army.
The recovered weapons indicate that the terrorists belong to JeM. They had a big terror plan, the L-G said, adding efforts were on to track down the truck driver.
A senior police officer said, it seems the terrorists infiltrated from across the International Border (IB) in Jammu region before boarding a Kashmir-bound truck.
Speaking on the sidelines of a function in Srinagar, IGP Vijay Kumar said, “For the last few days, Pakistan has increased attempts to infiltrate militants into this side and to disturb the elections for which the process is on.”
“In this context, Jammu Police and security forces have done a good job by neutralising four Pakistanis (militants). Their (militants’) aim was to come to Kashmir to disturb the election process”.
He said the four terrorists were on their way to the Kashmir valley to disturb the District Development Council (DDC) polls scheduled later this month, as Pakistan has been trying to cause trouble in the political process.
He said there were apprehensions about militants targeting the elections, but the security forces were fully prepared to deal with the situation.
Whether there is an election or August 15 or January 26 or even a VIP visit, apprehensions are always there, but we are fully prepared… We are providing security to the candidates and they have started going to the field for campaigning from yesterday and there is nothing to fear, he said.
Kumar, however, said providing security to each candidate contesting the polls, which begin on November 28, was difficult.
Providing security to each candidate is difficult. We are providing them collective security and they are being put up in secure areas. Whenever any candidate goes out for campaigning, we provide a double escort with him and secure the area for him to campaign, he said when pointed out that the candidates were alleging that they had not been provided security.
On a question about the number of militants waiting at the launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate into this side, the IGP said there were inputs that about 250 militants were there, but the security forces were alert to foil Pakistan’s designs.
Other security forces have already given the figures that about 200 to 250 militants are ready to infiltrate, but the security forces are alert. The endeavour of Pakistan is to push more militants into this side, but the security forces are prepared to foil their designs, he said.
Asked about Wednesday’s grenade attack in Kakapora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Kumar said the police have identified the militant behind the incident.
It was an unfortunate incident. The target was CRPF and police, but 12 civilians were injured — out of whom four were rushed to a Srinagar hospital, but their condition is stable. We have identified the militant who threw the grenade and we are after him and will arrest him soon, he said.
DDC polls will be held from November 28 to December 22. Results will be declared on December 22.
These polls will be the first major political activity in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 last year, when the Centre revoked the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 of the Constitution and split it into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
On January 31, a group of terrorists had opened fire at a police team near Ban Toll Plaza, triggering a gunfight in which three terrorists were killed and a policeman got injured.
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is exploiting the International Boundary area in Punjab Jammu sector to push in maximum number of terrorists, officials said.