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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Despite 'restrictions', 8,000 attend militant's funeral in PDP bastion

NC Panch's son captured after snatching away AK-47 from Policeman

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 7: That the highly radicalised militants are enjoying a field day and the separatists regaining their ground fast in the ruling PDP's stronghold in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, was clear with the participation of around 8,000 residents in the funeral of the slain Lashkar-r-Tayyiba militant Talib Afzal Shah at Kakpora village on Friday.

Officials of the Executive Police as well as the PDP leaders insisted that the gathering was "just 4,000-strong", but an intelligence arm of the Jammu and Kashmir Police reported that "7,000 to 8,000 people" attended Talib's funeral procession and Namaaz-e-Janazah. Talib, code-named Abu Umar, had died in an overnight encounter at a fellow villager's house with Rashtriya Rifles 50 Bn and Special Operations Group of Pulwama District Police.

Informed official sources told STATE TIMES that one the most wanted Pakistani militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Abu Dujana, managed to escape despite a tight cordon by forces. "Dujana was very much present with Talib at the hideout but his body did not surface from the debris of the demolished house. Clearly, he has escaped with the advantage of many residents throwing stones on the security forces", said an official.

Talib, who had a postgraduation in physical education, was buried amid anti-India, pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi slogans by the gathering on Friday. Even as the authorities enforced undeclared curfew and imposed restrictions on the peoples' movement towards Kakpora, around 8,000 residents attended the militant's funeral. Sporadic clashes took place between the demonstrators and the Police and CRPF around Kakpora even as the residents of Lelhar, Sambora, Alchibagh and other villages were prevented from heading towards Kakpora.

Over a dozen persons sustained injuries during the ding-dong clashes. Officials said that five persons with minor injuries were treated and discharged from the local hospitals. However five more with bullet and pellet injuries were admitted at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar. Two each of them had bullet and pellet injuries. One more, according to officials, has lost three fingers when he picked up a tear gas shell to throw it on Police but it exploded in his hand.

Pulwama and Shopian districts have been a stronghold of the mainstream PDP and the pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami with all the six Assembly seats going to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s party in 2008 and 2014 elections. Even in 2002, PDP had bagged five out of the six seats.

Meanwhile, at the Tehsil headquarters of Tral in the same area, a young man, identified as Fayaz Ahmad Lone of Pastoona, today snatched away an AK-47 rifle from a Police constable on duty and ran away. However, the Police chased him and captured him at a distance of 400 metres. He was relieved of the rifle and whisked away to Police Station for sustained interrogation.

Interestingly, according to the residents and the officials, Lone's mother is an elected Panch of the mainstream opposition party National Conference. His father is reportedly a farmer and his brother a truck driver.

In a related development, Police detained a top wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militant Aaqib's brother Suhail for questioning. He is a resident of Hayina village in Tral.


Friday, August 7, 2015

NIA takes over investigation of Udhampur fidayeen attack 

Former Jammu SSP Atul Kumar Goel designated as Chief Investigating Officer
FIR being produced in NIA Special Court in Jammu on Friday

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 6: In a significant development, Narendra Modi government at the Centre on Thursday assigned the investigation of Wednesday’s terrorist attack on a convoy of Border Security Force (BSF) in Jammu and Kashmir to the elite National Investigation Agency (NIA) which conducted several rounds of preliminary interrogation on the captured Pakistani militant Naveed alongwith senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central agencies.

Highly placed authoritative sources here disclosed to STATE TIMES that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, in coordination with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, issued a formal order and hand over the investigation to NIA. Former SSP of Jammu Atul Kumar Goel, who is currently on deputation with NIA, has been designated as the Chief Investigating Officer and he would be producing the FIR in the NIA Special Court in Jammu on Friday.

Two of the NIA teams associated themselves with Naveed's sustained interrogation at Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) Miran Sahab, near Jammu, earlier on Thursday.

While the first team, led by Dy SP Ajit Singh Salaria arrived in Jammu by Rajdhani Express in the forenoon, a high level team led by IGP S.K. Singh followed by a special aircraft in the afternoon. It included DIG Anil Shukla and SSP Atul Kumar Goel, who has proceeded on the Central deputation after serving as SSP Jammu.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police K. Rajendra Kumar, IGP CID Abdul Gani Mir, IGP Jammu Danish Rana besides senior officials from Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and intelligence officials from Army and BSF were present during Naveed's preliminary interrogation.

Late in the afternoon, District Magistrate of Udhampur Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary granted sanction to the prosecution of the captured militant and others to be found involved in the attack on BSF convoy in which two personnel died and 12 others sustained injuries. DC Udhampur told STATE TIMES that issuing this order, following registration of FIR No: 60 of 2015 under various provisions of Ranbir Penal Code and waging of war against the country, had become necessary under Section 121 of RPC and Section 196 of Criminal Procedure Code. He, however, maintained that Police Station Udhampur would hold the investigation.

However, in the evening, Government of India, after daylong consultation with Government of Jammu and Kashmir, assigned the investigation to NIA with the argument that part of the investigation would have to be carried out in foreign countries, including Pakistan and USA, which was obviously beyond the resourcefulness of any State government agency.

For observers of the Kashmir insurgency, it was a clear indication of the Narendra Modi government's intention to take the investigation to its logical conclusion of Naveed's execution on the lines of the Mumbai terror attack of November 26, 2008. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist Ajmal Kasab was hanged to death in November 2012 for his participation in the terror attacks that left over 200 people dead in Mumbai.

DGP Rajendra did not respond to a call from this newspaper but sources insisted that he was "cogently averse" to the Centre's move of handing over the investigation to NIA. His contention was that J&K Police was not only legally competent but also experienced and resourceful enough to handle such type of an investigation. However, Mr Rajendra did not stick to his resistance when the MHA officials convinced the State Home Department that the investigation would involve technology, infrastructure and international coordination with foreign agencies, including Interpol, available only with NIA and CBI in India.

It was pointed out to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government that a "speaking evidence of Pakistan's involvement in terrorism in India" had been grabbed first time after Ajmal Kasab's arrest during the 2008 encounter in Mumbai. "It needs to be protected and to be followed assiduously so as to establish Pakistan's hand in the subversion in India", said an official. He revealed that the NIA investigators would complete the investigation in minimum possible time.

Naveed, Noman stayed in Kashmir for 64 days

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 6: The captured Pakistani militant of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba has revealed to his interrogators that before the fidayeen attack on a BSF convoy near Udhampur on Wednesday, he and his accomplice had stayed and moved in Kashmir valley for 64 days.

Sources privy to the compilation of his interrogation report revealed to STATE TIMES that 23-year-old Naveed of Faisalabad had initially given conflicting details of his passage into the valley but finally he disclosed that he had crossed the LOC after cutting the barbed wire fencing alongwith Noman in Nowgam sector of Handwara Police district on June 2nd.

After their stay in Handwara and Baramulla for some days, the duo proceeded to a village near the famous shrine of Babarishi in Tangmarg area. On several occasions during the month of Ramazan, their group of four militants, including the guide Hamza, was treated with sumptuous Kashmiri waazwaan.

Naveed, who initially described himself as Qasim and Usman, gave the Pakistani mobile phone number of his brother Nadeem which was found as real during verification by the interrogators. Unconfirmed reports said that one of the officers managed to call Nadeem with his Delhi-based cellphone and informed the receiver that his brother Naveed was in his custody.

Naveed revealed that he and his accomplice put up at different hideouts, mostly at the houses of LeT’s overground workers, in Pulwama, Awantipora and Khudwani village of Kulgam district in South Kashmir. It was in that separatists-dominated village that the militants hired a truck that carried them all the way to Samroli, 15 Km short of Udhampur, before carrying out the fidayeen attack. He claimed that he and Noman stayed in the truck for some hours of the previous night at Tamatar Morh, between Batote and Patni Top.

The interrogators are still trying to learn whether the fidayeen duo’s final destination was Samrohli only or they had been tasked with executing a suicide attack on the Northern Command headquarters of Army in the garrison town of Udhampur on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway.

As of now, Naveed has stuck to his story that they had to attack the Amarnath Yatra but he has not given a convincing reply as to why the militants waited till the Yatra convoy passed and they attacked a rear convoy of BSF. He has said that according to the plan, they had been asked to escape towards Sanasar heights and hide somewhere for two days and assured that one of the men from the outfit would subsequently guide them back to the Valley.

The class 11th  dropout, according to sources, claimed to have been indoctrinated by a Tableegi Jamaat and later completed the special training of ‘Daura-e-aam’ and ‘Daura-e-khaas’ at an LeT camp in Pakistan. He said that he was inducted as a member of the guerrilla outfit after he was shown videos of fighting and “atrocities of armed forces and Police on the Kashmiri Muslims”.

Significantly, Naveed claimed that he had been launched for the Jammu mission by the top wanted LeT commander Abu Qasim who was allegedly mastermind and executor of high profile attacks on Army including the killing of eight soldiers in a daredevil attack on the highway bypass near Hyderpora in August 2012.

Remarkably, Qasim was said to be among the three LeT militants who got trapped in a gunbattle at Kakpora village of Pulwama district on Thursday evening.

Two LeT militants killed in Pulwama encounter

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 6: At least two militants of Lashkar-r-Tayyiba are believed to have died in a fierce encounter with Police and security forces in Kakapora village of Pulwama district in South Kashmir on Thursday.
Informed sources told STATE TIMES that troops of Rashtriya Rifles 50th Bn, CRPF and a unit of Special Operations Group of Pulwama District Police launched a cordon-and-search operation on the basis of a tip off which indicated presence of two militants at a hideout.

According to the tip off, the LeT militant Mohammad Afzal Shah alias Talib had reached a neighbour’s house for the purpose of meeting his family members.

Sources said that the holed up militant opened fire and made unsuccessful attempts to escape as they found themselves under cordon. However, in the gunbattle, troops shot dead Afzal alias Talib who had joined militancy after completing his Masters in Physical Education in a University in Maharashtra.
DIG South Kashmir Nitish Kumar said that the residents of Kakapora were more or less calm but those from the neighbouring villages of Lelhar and Sambora trooped into the village and resorted to stone pelting on Police and armed forces to fail their operation. “We tackled the situation effectively while facing stone pelting till late in the night. Troops have destroyed the target house and killed the second holed up militant. But it is possible that total of three militants have died”, DIG Kumar told STATE TIMES from the site of encounter.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Two BSF men, one militant killed in J&K highway encounter

◆10 BSF personnel injured

◆Second militant escapes, holds hostage 3 civilian while fleeing but tracked by phone signals

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 4: Two soldiers of the Indian paramilitary Border Security Forces (BSF) and a militant died when two militants attacked a convoy of the armed forces near Udhampur on Jammu - Srinagar national highway on Wednesday.

Authoritative sources from Jammu told STATE TIMES over telephone that a group of two heavily armed militants in combat fatigue ambushed the routine morning convoy of BSF at a small market near Narsu Nallah, 15 Km from Northern Command headquarters of the Army at 7.15 pm. Even as the forces gunned down one of the militants, two soldiers died and 10 others sustained injuries in the gunbattle.

Deputy Commissioner of Udhampur Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary confirmed to this correspondent that two BSF personnel got killed and 10 more injured in the encounter. He said that BSF shot dead one of the two assailants but one of them escaped towards the uphill.

Dr Chowdhary said that the fleeing militant took three civilians hostage and escaped while using them as human shield. However, forces later traced him and held him in a tight cordon. "They are trying to avoid the civilian casualties but there is little possibility of the militant's escaping. Forces alongwith Police have launched a massive cordon and search operation", Dr Chowdhary said.

Dr Chowdhary said that the routine caravan of Amarnath pilgrimage had passed smoothly from the same spot at 6.45 a.m. when the militants ambushed the BSF convoy. He said that the Yatra was going on and all the pilgrims were safe. "No pilgrims has been hurt as their caravan has passed on towards Kashmir smoothly half an hour earlier", he asserted.

Two soldiers killed, 2 injured in ‘confusion firing’ in Tral

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 4: Two soldiers got killed and two more injured in a shootout between two units of Army in Tral area of South Kashmir late on Tuesday night.

Informed sources told STATE TIMES that two soldiers died and two more were injured when two units of Rashtriya Rifles 42nd battalion opened fire on each other near Noorpora village of Tral at around 9.30 pm on Tuesday night. Sources said that the shootout appeared to be the result of confusion with regard to the identity of each other between two units of RR 42 Bn.

Sources said that one soldier died on the spot and three more sustained injuries. They were rushed to Army’s 92 Base Hospital for treatment where one more soldier succumbed to injuries. Sources identified the soldiers killed as Sepoy Lal Chanlima Ghatak and N.K. Mohan.

Senior Superintendent of Police Awantipora, Mohammad Irshad confirmed the death of two soldiers in the shootout. He said that one soldier was injured. According to him, one soldier died on the spot and one of the two injured soldiers later died at the hospital. SSP maintained that the troops of two units got confused with regard to the identity of each other. Both perceived that they had come across the militants, he told STATE TIMES from the spot.

The shootout has taken place in a militant-infested area where Hizbul Mujahideen’s most dreaded militant of South Kashmir Burhan has established a strong base. According to sources, even today, troops were in ambush for Burhan, over a specific information, when the soldiers of another unit passed by and the encounter took place. Burhan is the militant who in July released pictures and videos of himself and other militants of his group on social media---including YouTube and Facebook---creating a sensation all over the valley. His brother had earlier got killed in Army’s controversial shootout at a hideout in upper Tral.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hizb ‘Div Commdr’ found dead in rivulet

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Aug 3: One of the most wanted commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen, Tariq Ahmad Mir of Handwara, who according to the Jammu and Kashmir Police was ‘second-in-command’ to the Lashkar-e-Islam chief Qayyum Najar, was on Monday found dead in a rivulet in Sumbal area of Bandipore district.

Informed official sources told STATE TIMES that 36-year-old Tariq Ahmad Mir alias Tariq Mawri of Adoora Mawar (Handwara), who operated under the code-names of Zahid and Arif, was found dead in Ferozpora Nallah in Mirgund-Sumbal belt of North Kashmir. His body was first sighted by the local labourers who, as usual, had gone to extract sand from the rivulet. On search of the body, Police claimed to have recovered a Pakistani-made Shaheen pistol with nine rounds of 9mm calibre from a belt.

For hours of the day, Police attempted to ascertain the identity of the suspected militant. A Police party also called on the family members of the North Kashmir’s most wanted militant Qayyum Najar in Sopore. However, his relatives insisted that it was not Najar. They claimed that they had never seen the man whose photographs were shown to them.

It was towards late afternoon that Handwara Police got the deceased identified as Tariq Ahmad Mir of Adoora Mawar. Until recently, when Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin announced Najar’s expulsion from the organisation, Tariq reportedly held the rank of the outfit’s “Divisional Commander” in Sopore-Handwara belt.

Sources said that Tariq’s body was carried to Handwara and handed over to his foster father Mohammad Sultan Mir. According to the Police reports, around 4,000 people participated in Namaz-e-Janazah before chanting pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan slogans.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Kashmir, Gareeb Das, told STATE TIMES that while holding the rank of Hizbul Mujahideen’s “Divisional Commander”, Tariq was also the “second-in-command” of the front guerrilla outfit ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ that had spread a wave of terror all over the Valley, particularly in Sopore and Srinagar, with a series of attacks on the people associated with mobile telephony operations. Significantly, Salahuddin announced Najar’s expulsion from Hizbul Mujahideen last month, holding him responsible for innocent killings and attacks on mobile telephony operators.

Separatist circles had widely labelled Lashkar-e-Islam as a front organisation floated by and operating under the direction and command of the Indian Army. However, in a Press conference, Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar said that Najar and his group were operating ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ under cover and they were involved in half-a-dozen civilian killings in Sopore area.

DIG Gareeb Das said that over a dozen FIRs stood registered against Tariq at different Police Stations. “We are still collecting the details of the crimes committed by him. As of now, we have found him booked in nine FIRs. He was involved in all the recent civilian killings in Sopore area and getting four Police personnel including SHO trapped and killed in an operation at Hygam. He had targeted SDPO Pattan in an IED attack in Nihalpora”, DIG said. He claimed that Tariq was an IED expert who had recruited a number of youths for Hizb and Lashkar-e-Islam. According to DIG, Tariq and Najar, were travelling in a Tavera from Palhalan (Pattan) to Srinagar, on Srinagar-Baramulla highway, late on July 31 when they were stopped by a Police naka at Mirgund. On being asked about their identity and destination, they produced fake identity cards and claimed that they were going to see their ailing brother in a hospital. However, as soon as SHO Pattan Saleem Mir asked them to get down for physical frisking and checking of the vehicle, they opened fire. Three Policemen, including SHO, sustained injuries. Driver of the civilian Tavera, Bilal Ahmad Gujri, was also injured.

Both the militants managed to escape while abandoning the vehicle. Police alerted different units of RR 2nd Bn and RR 29th Bn, CRPF besides Pattan and Sumbal Police. The militant duo succeeded to give a slip to at least two Police and Army nakas. However, a Police party chased away the duo. Even as Qayyum Najar escaped successfully, Tariq drowned into a rivulet. Not sure about the identity of the man who drowned, Police and armed forces maintained calm but continued search. Tracker dogs had indicated the two militants’ movement towards Sumbal.

There was no clue on Saturday and Sunday. However, on Monday, Tariq Mir’s body was spotted in the rivulet. It had bloated and had a small cut on the nose.

DIG said that Tariq had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2001. He had received guerrilla training at a camp in PoK and returned in 2004. Later, he went back to PoK and returned in 2010. Police and Army claimed that Tariq’s death by drowning had caused a major blow to militancy in North Kashmir.