Fidayeen bid at Raj Bhawan, MLAs hostel foiled
28 February 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Police and Special Operations Group (SOG) gunned down a top Lashkar-e- Toiba (LeT) militant, who was plotting fidayeen attacks at Raj Bhawan and MLAs hostel here, in an encounter at village Safian in foothills of Bala Sundri temple under the jurisdiction of Billawar police station in Kathua district in early hours of this morning. A close associate of slain militant and a harbourer were arrested during the operation in which one police constable was injured. Slain militant has been identified as Abu Talha, a Pakistani and ‘district commander’ of LeT having his area of operation in Doda, Bhadarwah and Basantgarh. His associates, who were arrested from the spot, include Naseer Ahmed alias Bittu alias Raju son of Bashir Ahmed R-o Bhadarwah and Lateef Bakerwal of Billawar. IGP Jammu Dr Shesh Pal Vaid told a press conference that a joint team of police and SOG was rushed to Billawar from Jammu and Kathua yesterday after a specific input was given by an Intelligence agency that Abu Talha had taken shelter somewhere in Billawar. Police parties from Billawar police station also joined the operation. 'With the help of mobile telephones network, cops zeroed-in on village Sufiyan late last night. During searches, they succeeded in apprehending Naseer Ahmed and Lateef Bakerwal, who were subjected to questioning during which they revealed that Abu Talha had just managed to escape towards a surrounding forest area after observing police movement in the village', Dr Vaid said. He added that police personnel surrounded the forest area and trapped Abu Talha in early hours of this morning. Talha lobbed three grenades on the cops in which one police constable was injured. Cops retaliated eliminating Talha. Recoveries made from his possession include one AK-56 rifle, 32 rounds, two magazines and one Cell phone besides some documents. Talha was plotting fidayeen attacks at Raj Bhawan and MLAs hostel in Jammu with the help of his associates. He was also planning to spread LeT’s network in Jammu and Kathua districts. A major catastrophe has been averted with his killing. SOG Jammu team in the operation was led by DySP Shailey Singh, who along with a constable Anil Kumar sustained minor injuries in the operation. CRPF team was led by Deputy Commandant Liaquat Ali. Army's Jammu PRO Col S D Goswami said Army was also actively involved in the operation. Abu Talha was operating in Doda-Bhadarwah- Basantgarh belt for last five years and was an important militant for Pakistani agencies. For sending arms and hawala money besides other items in Jammu region, he used to be consulted by agencies from across the border, Dr Vaid said. He had planned minority killings in Kulhand and Basantgarh last year besides attack on an Army camp in Kathua. Other major subversive activities in which he was involved include killing of three GREF personnel at Gul Danda Dhar on Chamba- Bhadarwah road in July 2004, a widow Shabnam Begum at Upper Dandi, Bhadarwah, attack on a police party in April 2006 in police station complex, Bhadarwah in which a constable was killed and five others were injured and kidnapping and killing of a VDC member Nek Chand at Thuba, Bhadarwah. Associates of Abu Talha, who were arrested from the site of encounter, are being questioned to ascertain more details about militants’ movement in the area. Safian village, where Talha had taken shelter, was also an infiltration route for the militants used to reach upper reaches of Udhampur and Doda districts. Replying to questions, Dr Vaid observed that militancy was on the decline in Jammu region. 'It won’t be premature to say that a roll back has started. Terrorism has been coming down. Foreign mercenaries of LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed had been trying to take the vacuum created by Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Hizbul Mujahideen Pir Panjal Regiment (HMPPR) but they won’t be able to spread their network for a long', he said, adding strong differences still persisted among foreign and local ultras. He pointed out that number of militants has come down drastically and will further go down in 2007. He admitted that militants were in possession of Cellular based IEDs.