3 soldiers killed in terror attack: Again in Pampore; again despite alert from IGP Kashmir
On almost all the attacks on convoys, Police, forces had been alerted; STATE TIMES predicted the strikes on the highway
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Dec 17: In the evening on December 8, 2015, union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Prakash Mishra to greet him over the news that two of three militants, who had attacked a paramilitary convoy at Green Tunnel Bijbehara a day before and left six personnel injured, had been gunned down at Sempora — the border point of Srinagar and Pulwama districts on Srinagar-Jammu highway, on outskirts of Srinagar. Minutes before that, Mishra, on way from Anantnag to Srinagar, had crossed the same point, around 300 yards from the magnificent and imposing EDI complex.
On a tip-off, Police and security forces had laid an ambush at Sempora and started checking of all incoming vehicles. Two Lashkar-e-Tayyiba militants travelling in a load-carrier jumped out and attempted to escape while firing but were both shot dead in retaliation. The civilian driver, hired in Pulwama, survived. The militants were virtually chasing the CRPF DG. That was the beginning of a series of attacks and encounters on the highway, perceived to be free of militants for years.
The seventh attack in the chain, on Saturday, at Pampore, 2 Km from Sempora, in just 12 months, has exposed a many chinks in the armour of the Police and security forces in Kashmir. It left three soldiers dead and one more injured.
In the afternoon on Friday, a communication from IGP Kashmir Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani to all the senior Police and security forces officer operating in South Kashmir had asked them to take “all necessary precautions” as the militants, according to a credible information, were likely to attack a patrol or convoy of security forces in “a major town” on the highway. Evidently, it was as usual ignored and taken without any sense of seriousness by the field officers.
Significantly, on December 11, STATE TIMES had published that Hizbul Mujahideen’s so-called Highway Squad was planning a major strike on the highway somewhere between Khannabal and Qazigund. They just changed the venue and went ahead with their strike without regard to the red alert that had been sounded on the highway.
Even when the most audacious terror strike was carried out by militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba at Pampore, 1 Km from Sempora, on June 25 this year, STATE TIMES had on the same day published a detailed story, reporting that the militants were planning a major attack on security forces around Srinagar. Officers in Police and security forces as usual ignored it. On the same day, a group of three suicide bombers attacked a CRPF convoy at Frestbal, Pampore, and left 8 soldiers dead. Twenty-one more sustained injuries. Sources insist that the fidayeen attack occurred despite a red alert.
Situated in a high security zone between headquarters of Army’s 15 Corps and the ace counterinsurgency division Victor Force, Sempora-Pampore belt was in fact chosen for almost all the major terror strikes on the highway — except that of the June 3 attack on a convoy in which three BSF men were killed and 6 left injured in Chief Minister’s hometown of Bijbehara. On June 4, militants also gunned down two Police personnel, including an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police, on Khannabal-Pahalgam Road at the South Kashmir district headquarters of Anantnag.
Two attacks on the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) on February 20, 2016, and October 10, 2016, left the key training and capacity building centre for the Kashmiri youths devastated. In one of his unusually terse reactions, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted that the militants were the saboteurs of the careers of Kashmir’s educated and unemployed youths.
The first fidayeen attack in February, 2016, damaged EDI’s four-storey administrative complex extensively. The nine fatal casualties in the three-day-long gunfight included two Majors and a soldier of Special Force, two CRPF personnel, a temporarily engaged gardener besides three Pakistani militants of LeT. Those evacuated by Police and security forces included Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin’s son, working as a junior IT manager with EDI.
In the second fidayeen attack in October, the militants failed to cause any fatal casualty to Police or security forces but kept themselves holed up and alive for 56 hours. Finally troops stormed the devastated 9-storey hostel block and killed both the militants.
Terror attacks/ encounters in Kashmir valley on Srinagar-Jammu highway
Dec 07, 2015
Green Tunnel, Bijbehara
6 CRPF men injured
Dec 08, 2015
Sempora, Srinagar outskirts
2 militants killed; 2 CRPF men, 2 civilians injured
Feb 20, 2016
EDI Complex, Sempora
3 Armymen, 2 CRPF personnel, 3 militants, 1 civilian killed; 13 injured
Jun 03, 2016
3 BSF personel killed
June 25, 2016
8 CRPF men killed, 21 injured
EDI Complex, Sempora
2 militants killed
3 soldiers killed, one injured
[Published in today's STATE TIMES]