June 2016 News

Terror Strikes Again On Highway; Militant, Woman Killed; 2 Injured

13 June 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Terror struck again on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway at Kud near famous tourist resort of Patnitop, about 100 kilometers from here in Udhampur district this evening when a militant opened firing on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), police personnel and civilians inside State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) bus during naka checking by the para-military personnel at Kathar Nullah, just short of Kud killing a woman and injuring two other civilians including a female doctor. The CRPF personnel gunned down the militant in retaliatory firing inside the bus and didn't allow him to come out, thus, averting what could have been a major tragedy as the militant was in possession of AK-47 rifle, pistol and large quantity of arms and ammunition. Traffic was immediately suspended on entire Jammu-Srinagar National Highway to look for more militants though inputs and on spot reports indicated that there was only one militant present inside the bus, who had planned to target security forces installation but was gunned down well before he could succeed. Slain militant has been identified as Tahir Ahmad Sultan S-o Mohammad Sultan R-o Bemina, Srinagar. IGP Jammu Danesh Rana told the Excelsior from the site of encounter at Kathar Nullah, just short of Kud, where CRPF and police have 'very active naka' that a militant and a woman were killed and two civilians including a female doctor were injured in the gun-battle . 'The militant was neutralized well in time before he could cause much damage,' he said, adding that the militant was in possession of one AK-47 rifle, one pistol and 80 rounds, which has been seized from the spot. Official sources said the joint team of 84 battalion of CRPF and police signaled the CRPF bus No. 0444 JK02Y to stop at their famous Kathar Nullah at 5.10 pm today. As the passengers were boarding out of the bus for frisking, the militant, finding himself trapped, opened firing killing a woman and injuring two civilians. The CRPF jawans retaliated immediately and gunned down the militant inside the bus before he could inflict more casualties on the bus passengers and CRPF and police personnel at the naka. Immediately after the shoot-out, CRPF and police personnel sounded alert along all nakas at the Highway and suspended traffic movement for safety of the people. Though there was no report of any other militants having escaped from the bus during the shoot-out, police was not taking any chances and have stepped-up searches all along the Highway for suspected militants. However, there were reports that the militant had boarded the SRTC bus right from Srinagar and managed to reach Kud, thus, travelling nearly 200 kilometers on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway crossing several nakas at Banihal, Ramban and Batote etc carrying deadly assault rifle, pistol and ammunition with him without any check. 'This has raised question mark on security measures along the National Highway especially after last year's terror attack at Narsu near Samroli in Udhampur district on Jammu-Srinagar Highway on August 5 in which two BSF personnel were killed and 10 others were injured. The BSF had gunned down one Pakistani militant in retaliation while the locals had captured another Pakistani, Naved alive from the spot,' sources recalled. The two Pakistani militants had also managed to reach Samroli in Udhampur district without any check on the National Highway. Sources said identity of slain militant hasn't been established so far but he was well equipped with arms and ammunition and seems to have a security installation in mind. However, before he could board off and target security installation, he was gunned down by the CRPF personnel at their naka, averting major terror attack but a woman was killed and two others were injured in the firing. Sources noted that CRPF and police had to retaliate very cautiously as there were at least 50 passengers on board the SRTC bus in which the militant opened firing. They confirmed that the cops didn't allow the militant to come out of the bus and killed him inside. 'Had the militant managed to come out, he could have caused more damage,' they said. DIG Udhampur-Reasi range Surinder Gupta, SSP Udhampur Mohammad Suleman and Additional SP Udhampur ML Kaith rushed to the spot after the firing to supervise search operations along with CRPF officers. The bus was seized and passengers were boarded in other vehicles. Injured were shifted to Chenani Hospital, where one of the woman succumbed to her injuries. Two injured have been identified as Dr Ruby wife of Ravi Kumar, a resident of Krishna Nagar, Jammu and Dalbir Singh son of Sadhu Ram R-o Gurdaspur. Dr Ruby has been referred to the Government Medical College, Jammu while Dalbir Singh was admitted in the Military Hospital, Udhampur. The woman, who succumed to her injuries, has been identified as, Mamata Thapa w-o Rajinder Thapa R-o Chatha, Ranibagh. Immediately after the attack, traffic on most parts of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was suspended as security forces and police launched massive search operations to look for other militants. Sources said it was confirmed that there was only one militant in the bus and no other militant managed to escape (from the bus) but still the searches were on. Traffic was restored on the Highway late tonight after sanitization operations were completed. This was the fifth major terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir during past about a fortnight. In four first attacks, militants had targeted police and BSF at Srinagar, Bijbehara and Anantnag (twice) killing eight BSF and police personnel and injuring several others. Sources said the target of militant killed at Kud might also be the security installation. 'The targets seem to be part of well planned strategy to stop flow of tourists especially frighten the Amarnath ji pilgrims ahead of the annual yatra beginning on July 2 as most of the attacks have taken place in South Kashmir and National Highway,' sources said. Anantnag district in South Kashmir serves as base camp for Shri Amarnath ji pilgrimage. Meanwhile, apprehending militant attacks on vital defence installations across Jammu region through air route, the Government today imposed restrictions on several air-borne activities including paragliding in the region. Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Dr Simrandeep Singh told the Excelsior that terrorists could use sub conventional methods to target Indian Air Force, Defence and police installations as per an input received from the IAF and, therefore, he has imposed restrictions on the use of para gliders, parachutes, air balloons etc under Section 144 CrPC. Dr Singh said the restrictions do not amount to a complete ban on such activities but any individual or recreational club that wants to carry out such activity should get permission from the district administration. Simrandeep said there would be no private air-borne activities like para-jumping, para-gliding and launching of any hot air balloon within the radius of one km of any security or defence installations in the district. 'In the past we have seen militants using sub-conventional ways to launch attack across the country. They used sea route in Mumbai attack, they jumped the wall during Pathankot attack and now we are apprehensive that they might resort to the use of air route to launch attacks,' Singh said. He said all the private companies running such activities have been asked to get themselves registered with the district administration before carrying out any such activity. 'We need to know what type of equipment they (private operators) have and when and how they intend to use it,' he said. The step is also of greater significance given the inputs that terrorist outfits across the border might try to launch attacks on the upcoming Amarnath pilgrimage which starts from July 2. An official order issued by the DC Jammu gave reference to IAF Police Headquarter (Punjab, Himachal and Jammu areas) letter. The ban will remain in-force for a period of 60 days until extended further.