August 2003 News

Dec 13 Mastermind Killed In Encounter: BSF

30 August 2003
The Times of India

Srinagar: After an 11-hour gunfight in Srinagar on Saturday, BSF has claimed to have killed Jaish commander Gazi Baba, prime accused in the December 13 attack on Parliament. The BSF had initially put the total number of militants killed at five, but according to Inspector General of BSF, Kashmir range, Vijay Raman, only two bodies have been recovered. One has been identified as Gazi Baba, the other as Rashid Bhai. Two BSF soldiers were also killed in the shootout, while 10 others, including three officers, were injured during the encounter. Meanwhile, a Jaish spokesman called up a local news agency and claimed that Gazi Baba was not among the slain terrorists. He added, while three of the Jaish members had been killed four other attackers had managed to escape. The BSF personnel had to blow up the house in Noorbagh in Safakadal area where the terrorists had taken refuge early on Saturday morning. The terror attack came barely two days after a night-long fierce gun battle between a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants and the BSF in the city on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Raman had said wireless messages flashed by the Jaish militants from the Noorbagh house were intercepted. A cordon was laid around the house in the wee hours and engaged the terrorists in a gunfight. Raman added that the said house was purchased by the Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit in the name of a local resident, Mohammad Shafi Dar, some five months ago. Quoting Dar's wife, who was safely evacuated along with her four children by the BSF personnel, Raman said that the house was being used as a hide-out by Gazi baba and his associates. The militants hiding in the house were initially asked to surrender. But they opened fire wounding deputy commandant N N Dobai. another deputy commandant C P Tiwari and assistant commandant Dinu Chandran were also injured during the gun battle. One of the BSF men killed were identified as constable Balbir Singh. During the encounter the owner of the house also received injuries, said the BSF spokesman. BSF also recovered a large cache of arms and ammunition of the outfit after blasting the hideout. Gazi Baba was known as the 'brain' among the organisational cadres of Jaish. He was well conversant in mountain guerrilla warfare tactics and was expert in taking abductions. The 40-year- old, whose real name is Shah Nawaz Khan, was resident of Bhawalpur in Pakistan. Among his aliases were Jehadi, Shehbaz Khan, Abu Hijrat. He is believed to be one of the hijackers of Air India IC- 814, called 'Doctor' by his associates on the aircraft that was taken to Kandahar in December 1999. Gazi Baba was also involved in two car blasts at the Army headquarters in Srinagar on April 19, 2000 and December 25, 2000. He was also involved in a fidayeen attack at Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly on October 1, 2001. Gazi was considered mastermind behind the Parliament attack on December 13, 2001. Gazi, who spoke chaste Urdu, used to operate from Bandipore in South Kashmir, and then shifted to Ganderbal where he was held responsible for the killing of 24 Kashmiri pandits in Wandhama village. He was reportedly involved in the kidnapping of six foreigners in Pahalgam in 1995. One of the hostages - an American John Childs - managed to escape, while another - a Norwegian Hans Christian Ostroe - was murdered. The fate of the remaining four - two Britons, one American and one German - is not known. At that time Gazi had give the name of a front group Al-Faran to ward off international pressure from main terror groups like Harkat-ul Ansar and Jaish.


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