Ex-Minister's kin among 6 Hizb militants held
5 June 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: In a major achievement, Police and Army have jointly busted a major militant network with the arrest of six militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, including the nephew of senior PDP leader and former Minister of State for Health Abdul Gaffar Sofi, in south Kashmir. This module of young, indoctrinated militants had conducted an attack on senior National Conference leader, Ali Mohammad Nayak, in Tral and, among other operations, planned to eliminate SSP Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari in an IED blast. Highly-placed authoritative sources revealed to EXCELSIOR that Police and Army have busted a militant module of top manoeuverability and operational skills in south Kashmir. These sources revealed that a young Hizbul Mujahideen militant, who had been arrested in an operation at Ameerabad in Tral area, last week, has spilled the beans during custodial interogation and exposed the whole network of militants. On his disclosures, another Hizbul Mujahideen militant, namely Yasir of Sarnal Anantnag, was arrested and subjected to sustained interrogation. Yasir happens to be the nephew of PDP's Homeshalibugh MLA and former Minister of State for Health, Abdul Gaffar Sofi. Sources said that three PDP leaders as also two Congress activists exerted tremendous pressure to seek Yasir's release but his interrogators proceeded with his interrogation and obtained vital clues with regard to whereabouts and arms dumps of militants in Anantnag-Tral-Awantipore belt. A series of raids was conducted on the last three days, resulting in arrest of at least five to six militants of this module. IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, visited Awantipore to take stock of the latest status of investigation today. IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, DIG South Kashmir, H K Lohia, and SP Awantipore, Sardar Khan, maintained that there was 'nothing as such'. However, sources revealed that six young militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, mostly from well off families, had been arrested. Recovery of arms and ammunition as also arrest of 10 more members of the module was likely tonight as Police and security forces were planning a series of raids in Anantnag and Pulwama districts. While one militant of Maharashtra and two Kashmiri militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, besides a Kashmiri soldier of BSF, had got killed in the gunbattle at Ameerabad, Tral, last week, one militant had been captured alive. Sources said that his disclosures led to the arrest of five more militants of the network, including the most important, Khalid of Chursoo, Awantipore. With the dislosures of the detained militants, Police and Army learned that Yasir had planned, carried out and participated in scores of militant strikes including an attack on senior NC leader and ex- Speaker of J&K Legislative Assembly, Ali Mohammad Naik, in Tral township earlier this year. He and other members of the group had once attacked then SSP Anantnag, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari. Main accused of that highway shootout, that took place at Chursoo near Awantipore, had been identified as Zahoor. He was later claimed killed in an emncounter, though circumstantial evidence suggested a custodial killing. Later, on special directions of Hizbul Mujahideen's 'Divisional Commander' Suhail Faisal of Jablipora, the guerrilla module had acquired a vehicle and planned to eliminate Asiq Hussain Bukhari, now SSP Budgam, in an IED blast in Anantnag. Top strategist of this module, Gowhar, had however got killed in another encounter with security forces. Police and forces were looking for the Hizb Divisional Commander's cousin sister as also a cousin brother, who was reportedly working as Medical Assistant in the State Health Department. Both are said to have gone underground. According to sources, the detained and interrogated militants exposed a nexus between the leaders of a mainstream political party and militants in Kashmir valley. They also indicated operational presence of the militant organisation in several Indian states. Grenade blasts owned up by the detained militants include one at Khanyar in this capital city and others in Tral and the Highway towns of Pampore, Awantipore, Sangam, Bijbehara and Khannabal, besides some places in Kulgam Police district. According to these sources, Police and Army raiders were also looking for a Class 10th militant-student who is said to have played a key role in executing the operations of this particular module.