‘They were in touch with Pak based comdr’
SRINAGAR, Aug 26: A day after four Handwara youth announced to have joined militant outfit Al-Badr, they were arrested by security forces in Kalaroos forests of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district in the wee hours today after a brief gun battle during which three militants accompanying them fled under the cover of darkness.
A joint team of Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Army’s 41 RR and 162nd and 98th battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) launched an operation in Nag Dagi forests of Kalaroos last night following the inputs about the presence of 7 Al-Badar militants. During the searches militants fired indiscriminately on the troops, leading to a gun battle and three of them fled under the cover of darkness and four newly recruits were arrested.
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The four arrested militants were identified as Umar Bashir Sheikh, 23, of Chotipora, Handwara, Danish Khazer Sheikh 22, Waseem Ahmad Khan, 23, of Chotipora, Handwara and Tahir Habib Bhat of Khuru. They were the same youth who joined Al-Badar yesterday and whose pictures went viral on social media. Among the four Waseem is an MBA student while as Umar has done diploma in Operation Theater.
As per sources, these four, newly recruited militants were in touch with an Al-Badr commander, Abu Qasim, based in Pakistan for last few months and they were planning to exfiltrate. They were using Telegram application for communication.
They said that they had a meeting on August 24 with a person in Handwara and later left for Kupwara and offered prayers at Jamia Masjid. They travelled to Batpora in Kupwara in an Alto vehicle from where they left for Kalaroos on foot where they met three foreign militants.
They were planning to stay in the Kalaroos forests for one week and exfiltrate to Pakistan through Bandipora.
Commander 68 Mountain Brigade, Brigadier Dinesh Singh Bisht, while giving details of the operation told reporters in Kupwara that the operation was conducted last night by Army and Police and Intelligence agencies. “Four local Al-Badr terrorists had been apprehended”, he said.
“These four had recently announced their joining in the terrorist organization and had also posted on various social media sites their weapons. We had been getting credible inputs from multiple sources of the terrorist movement in Kalaroos forests which leads to the Line of Control. Accordingly our troops had been maintaining strong counter infiltration grid in the area with multiple interception groups”, the Commander said.
“On the intervening night of August 25, intelligence of presence of seven Al-Badr terrorists was reported to us in the forest. Based on the inputs, we deployed our ambushes and planned a cordon and search operation along with Police. At around 4 am on August 26, one of the teams while approaching a suspected site were attacked with a heavy volume of fire from a Dhok in the forest. Our troops reacted swiftly and ensured that the terrorists could not break the contact. The vigilant team quickly cordoned the Dhok, the terrorists continued to fire indiscriminately and taking advantage of night, 2-3 terrorists managed to slip”, Brigadier Bisht said.
“Even then our troops continued to cordon the area. Over next few hours vigilance was maintained and at the dawn, security forces while searching the Dhoks overpowered and captured these newly joined terrorists with arms. It has been learnt that they had recently joined the ranks of Al-Badr outfit and were planning to exfiltrate to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) for training with three hardcore Al-Badr terrorists. Those three probably had led the initial gunfight leaving the four new terrorists to be killed. However, the forces had given them a fresh lease of life and opportunity to surrender”, the Commander said.
Militants tonight fired upon Police Post guarding the residence of political activist Mohammad Shafi Banday at Bonbazaar Shopian in South Kashmir.
The police guards on duty retaliated. However, there was no loss of life or injury. Shafi was earlier affiliated with Congress then he joined PDP and presently he was not affiliated with any political party. Militants this year also decamped with 4 SLR rifles from policemen who were guarding his house.
‘They were in touch with Pak based comdr’