Nagrota Encounter: Hunt on for contacts of slain Pakistani terrorists

Srinagar (NVI): Jammu and Kashmir Police and security agencies have launched a massive hunt to track down the local contacts of four Pakistani terrorists, killed in Nagrota two days back, to unearth the exact plan masterminded by Rauf Asgar, brother of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, in collusion with ISI.

Security agencies are also trying to find out if there are any more terror modules out to cause disruptions during the upcoming elections to District Development Councils (DDCs).

So far, it has been established that the four terrorists, who were intercepted and neutralised in an encounter at a Toll plaza in Nagrota on Thursday morning, belonged to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit and were on their way to Kashmir in a truck for some big “mission”, official sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, “Neutralising of 4 terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed and the presence of large cache of weapons and explosives with them indicates that their efforts to wreak major havoc and destruction have once again been thwarted.”

However, while the four terrorists were killed, the driver of the truck, in which they were being ferried to Kashmir, has escaped and is still at large.

Investigations so far have revealed that the terrorists had been picked up by the truck some kilometres from the International Border with Pakistan in Samba in Jammu province. They are believed to have sneaked in through the riverine area of the border in the darkness of night.

Security agencies are now trying to find out whether they were going to carry out terror attack straightaway somewhere in Kashmir or whether they were to be guided by someone locally.

The truck was obviously to drop them at some destination and the security agencies are trying to find out that, the sources said.

The slain terrorists left behind tell-tale evidence whose linkages go to Pakistan. What was recovered from them, besides large quantity of arms and ammunition, was a Digital Mobile Radio and medicines which are made in Pakistan.

In fact, there were messages on the Digital Mobile Radio in which the sender was asking the terrorists where they had reached, what the situation was and whether they faced any problems.

The medicine strips recovered show markings of companies of Lahore and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. Tags on the pants worn by the terrorists and markings on their shoes also pointed to the Pakistani connection.

According to indications, the terrorists were planning attack on the scale of Pulwama strike, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy on Jammu-Srinagar national highway on February 14, last year.

The possible timing seemed to be around November 26, the anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 when the financial capital of India was targeted in a coordinated manner at multiple places, including the iconic Taj Hotel.

According to the details emerging, the plan was hatched in Bahawalpur headquarters of JeM and the task of its execution was given by ISI to Asgar. Subsequently, four well-trained and highly motivated terrorists were chosen from the Shakargarh camp of JeM for infiltrating into India to carry out the attack to cause maximum possible damage.

The terrorists, when intercepted at the Toll plaza in Nagrota, were given a chance to surrender but they were so intoxicated that they did not give themselves in and were killed in the encounter.

They were carrying a large quantity of arms and ammunition. The recoveries after their killing included 11 AK rifles, 23 loaded magazines, 3 pistols with magazines, 29 grenades (which were left after use of several during the encounter), 10 under-barrel grenade launchers and large quantity of RDX.

With the evidence clearly pointing to Pakistan, India today lodged a strong protest with that country. Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs and told that Pakistan should desist from supporting terrorists and terrorist groups operating on its soil.

The Ministry asserted that the government of India is “firmly and resolutely committed to take all necessary measures to safeguard its national security in the fight against terrorism.”

The protest was lodged a day after the issue was discussed at a top level meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, NSA Ajit Doval and top officials of intelligence agencies.