Consignment was being shifted from Amritsar to Valley
Kashmir-Punjab ultras nexus being investigated
Arms were dumped between empty cartons of apples
JAMMU, Sept 12: Kathua police thwarted major terror plot by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) outfit hatched at the behest of Pakistan to cause disturbances in Kashmir by apprehending three militants along with six AK rifles, ammunition and cash from Pulwama bound truck at Lakhanpur, gateway to Jammu and Kashmir, this morning, which they had reportedly picked up at Amritsar district in Punjab.
Police and Intelligence agencies were working on various theories including possible nexus between Kashmir and Punjab militants or use of International Border in Punjab by the ultras to smuggle weapons from Pakistan and then shift them to Kashmir in view of high state of alert along Jammu and Kashmir borders since August 5 following abrogation of special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir.
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Though the truck had to cross from different parts of Jammu region including border districts of Kathua, Samba and Jammu before taking Jammu-Srinagar National Highway to reach Pulwama in South Kashmir, highly placed sources told the Excelsior that the militants had no plan to strike in Jammu region and were on way to the Valley, where they had to deliver consignment to Jaish militants.
The truck had off-loaded apples at Delhi Sabzi Mandi on September 10 and loaded empty cartons from there, which carried names of two companies on the boxes including Delhi Drubgam Fruit Company, Fruit Commission Agents, B-163, New Sabzi Mandi, Azadpur, Delhi and Better Business Dealings, Fruit Commission Agents, B-163, New Sabzi Mandi, Azadpur, Delhi and had a tag of Kashmir Apples written on the front.
It started return journey the same day but reportedly took Amritsar route as per the already fixed plan, where it carried bag from some militants and fixed them deep inside the empty cartons of apple boxes before heading towards Kashmir. They were reported to have spent the night in Punjab and entered Lakhanpur around 8 am today when alert police personnel caught all three militants and recovered weapons and cash after subjecting the truck to extensive searches.
The truck was bearing registration No. 2000 JK13E and carried the name of owner as N Suhil Ahmed Latoo and driver’s name as Javid Ahmed Dar of Pulwama.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kathua Shridhar Patil told the Excelsior that Lakhanpur police parties, which were maintaining high alert on the National Highway, intercepted the truck and subjected it to searches.
“During the search operation, we arrested three militants and seized six assault rifles including four AK-56, two AK-47, six magazines, 180 live rounds and Rs 11,000 cash, which had been concealed deep inside the empty cartons of apples,” Patil said, adding that all three militants have been shifted to safer areas where they were being subjected to sustained interrogation to ascertain identity of source of weapons and the militants to whom they had to be delivered.
He said a breakthrough on this account is likely to be made soon.
Arrested militants have been identified as Ubaid-ul-Islam son of Ghulam Mohammad Shah, a resident of Aglar Kandi, Rajpora in Pulwama, Jahangir Ahmed Parrey son of Mohammad Abdul Parrey R/o Pakherpora, Charar-e-Sharief, Budgam and Sabeel Ahmed Baba son of Ghulam Hassan Baba, a resident of Aglar Kandi Rajpora, Pulwama.
Patil said a major terror plot has been foiled with arrest of militants and recovery of six rifles and ammunition from their possession. The militants, he said, were planning to disturb peace and harmony in the State.
“Investigations have revealed that the militants were transporting the arms consignment from Punjab to Kashmir,” he said but declined to elaborate saying the militants were being quizzed to get more details including the place and persons from whom they gathered the consignment of arms and ammunition and the militants to whom it had to be delivered.
However, reliable sources said, the truck after off-loading apples at Delhi Sabzi Mandi Azadpur and loading empty cartons from there had taken Amritsar route instead of Jallandhar to take the consignment from already fixed route and then headed towards Jammu. Mobile telephones in possession of the militants have been seized to ascertain calls and text messages to reach to the persons with whom they were in touch.
However, they said, the militants had to take consignment to Pulwama in South Kashmir and had no plans to stop enroute including Pathankot-Jammu or Jammu-Srinagar National Highways, which they had to cross before reaching Pulwama.
“The militants had tactfully hidden the consignment of weapons and ammunition between the empty cartons of apples and it wasn’t an easy task to detect it,” sources said.
Police and Intelligence agencies were working on various theories on smuggling of weapons from Punjab to Kashmir including possible nexus between Punjab and Kashmir militants under which the Punjab based militants might have sent the consignment of arms and ammunition to Jaish-e-Mohammed to carry out terror attack as the Kashmiri militants were running short of weaponry due to plugging of infiltration routes in J&K.
The deal, according to sources, might have been struck by the Pakistan based handlers of Punjab and Kashmir militants.
Last year, some of the Kashmiri militants including Gazwat-ul-Hind chief Zakir Moosa had carried out grenade attack in Punjab and had also established his network there, which was later smashed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Punjab Police on the inputs of Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Yet another possibility is that Pakistan’s army and the Inter-Services Intelligence might have smuggled the consignment from the International Border in Punjab and then used couriers to transport it in the truck.
Police, however, said the things would be clear in a day or two after sustained interrogation of the militants.
Recently Intelligence agencies had intercepted an input in which the Pakistani handlers were asking Jaish cadre to wear bangles if they are unable to carry out any terror attack in the Valley post abrogation of special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Lakhanpur police have registered a case in the terror plot under Sections 38/39 Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 120-B RPC and 7/27 Arms Act.
Police parties of Lakhanpur police station headed by SHO Inspector Bharat Sharma made the arrests and recoveries under the supervision of SSP Kathua Shridhar Patil, Additional SP Ramnish Gupta, DySP KD Bhagat and DySP SOG Deepak Dhigra.
Significance of Sept 12
In a rare coincidence, it was exactly an year ago that police had intercepted a truck carrying three Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants along with arms and ammunition at Jhajjar Kotli on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, which was also on way to South Kashmir. Security forces had killed all three militants after two days long search and cordon operation. It was also on September 12, 2016 that security forces had gunned down four militants in the heart of Poonch town.
On September 12, 2018, Jhajjar Kotli police had intercepted the truck in which three Pakistani militants of the LeT were heading towards South Kashmir after infiltration from the International Border between Hiranagar and Kathua sectors. A truck operator and helper were taking them to the Valley after loading goods from Bari Brahamana.
Police had become doubtful as truck operator and helper asked for food at a roadside dhaba for three persons.
Following police movement, the militants had opened firing and fled towards forest area.
They were killed on the evening of September 13 after fierce gunbattle with Army, CRPF and police in which nearly a dozen police personnel including SDPO Nagrota Mohan Sharma were injured while fighting bravely with the militants.
The truck operator had disclosed that he had already shifted number of militants to Kashmir after their infiltration from the International Border by hiding them in his vehicle.
It was also on September 12, 2016 that four militants had infiltrated into Poonch from the Line of Control (LoC) and were heading towards Poonch town to target Mini-Secretariat. They were killed by police parties headed by then SSP Poonch Jatinder Singh Johar and SDPO Mohan Sharma after two days long heavy exchange of gunbattle with Army and police.
Sources said police was trying to ascertain whether the truck seized at Lakhanpur today had been used earlier for transporting of militants or smuggling of weapons to Kashmir.