Srinagar, The re-emergence of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) outfit on the militancy scene in Kashmir has shaken the security grid that fears more fidayeen attacks and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blasts in future.
The sources in the security grid said that re-introduction of remote-controlled IED in Sopore on January 6 that resulted in the death of four Indian Reserve Police cops including a junior officer, has sent shock waves.
“Managing IED blasts is the most lethal form of guerrilla warfare. Kashmir was fortunate that use of IEDs had minimized to almost zero but its re-introduction is not a good omen for the security forces and the public at large,” a senior police officer told Kashmir Wire, wishing not to be named.
Informed sources said that JEM outfit received a flip in 2017 summer when a group of 15-20 highly-trained militants sneaked into Kashmir from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. The group equipped with sophisticated weapons stayed in Bandipora and Pulwama districts and immediately began strengthening the network of overground workers.
Sources said a detachment of the squad was seen in a Laam-Aripal belt of Tral sub-district in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district where Noor Muhammad Tantray was already in contact with them. Tantray, 47, was dwarf but highly motivated after his release on parole from a long incarceration in Delhi’s Tihar Jail in a weapon dealing case.
Before joining militants Tantray had modified a Maruti car that he used to travel across the valley to establish new contacts. He was killed in a secret operation at Samboora village in Pampore on December 26.
Sources said that Tantray was in possession of a huge cache of arms and ammunition left by Jaish militants in early 2000 in his area. He distributed the weapons among an undisclosed number of new recruits. Sources said that that a top Pakistani JeM commander who had left valley in 2002, and returned fifteen years later, also helped Tantray in recollecting weapons and other logistics.
The JeM had planned to carry out IED blast in south Kashmir in the last week of December. However, 10 days before Tantray’s killing, an IED expert of the outfit was blown into pieces at Handura village in Tral while fabricating the lethal explosive. His comrades carried his body wrapped in a blanket to Eidgah at Tral with a note on his identity and cause of death. The people had been asked to give the slain Pakistani militant a decent burial. However, police whisked away from his body for burial in Baramulla district.
Sources said that the fidayeen squad has been named after Afzal Guru and its members carried out massive fidayeen missions in Pulwama police lines, Srinagar Airport and Lethpora CRPF camp inflicting heavy casualties on police and the government forces.
The senior police officer said that JeM has carried out most gory IED blasts including the October 1, 2001, blast outside the legislature complex in Srinagar. The blast killed 38 persons and 3 suicide bombers and injured 68 others.
“It would be disastrous if the outfit is again in a position to carry out massive blasts,” he said.
However, the Additional Director General of Police Munir Khan, who oversees counterinsurgency operations in Kashmir range said that a new strategy would be devised to contain IED blasts. “We will have to sit down and think about. We have to see how to tackle such incidents taking place in future,” Khan told reporters after the Sopore explosion.