Police investigations suggest the militants were meticulously trained, knew the police lines inside out, and were from the ‘Afzal Guru squad’
Srinagar: The police’s preliminary investigation suggests that Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants knew precisely where to enter and where to hide in the District Police Lines (DPL) Pulwama, where they carried out a fidayeen attack last Saturday. Police believe the militants climbed a water tank to scale the high walls and knew so well about the DPL that “in-house collaboration” may be involved.
“There is a shed and water tank of the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department close to the DPL boundary wall,” a senior police officer associated with the investigations told Kashmir Reader.“There is a lot of vegetation and civilian activity in the PHE establishment. The militants arrived in the pre-dawn hours and took shelter there. Since there is always activity, sentries did not suspect. Then they took advantage of darkness and the vegetation to climb the wall and break the wires with tools used by the PHE employees. They used wire-cutter to snap the barbed wires and then sneaked in.”
The moment they entered, they fired a hail of bullets on the sentries inside the DPL,” the officer said.
“Then they took position inside the buildings and engaged the forces in a gunfight,” he said.
The Pulwama DPL is surrounded by a camp of the police Special Operations Group (SOG) camp and a paramilitary CRPF camp.
At least eight men of the government’s security forces – four policemen and four paramilitary troopers – were killed along with three militants of the Jaish during the fierce encounter at the DPL. The gunfight ended only after two buildings, where the militants had taken shelter, were blasted using explosives and mortars.
“They had a neat idea about the camp. They knew where to go and from where to storm in,” the officer said. “We are investigating as to how they knew everything about the DPL. We suspect in-house collaboration. So far, the investigations are on to ascertain whether there was somebody inside the camp who aided the militants.”
The senior police officer said that there had been reports of movement of Jaish militants in the area, but they were vague.
“As such, we had not anticipated they will mount a fidayeen attack on the camp,” the officer said.
Another police officer, who is part of counter-militancy operations, told Kashmir Reader that the Jaish militants belonged to the “Afzal Guru squad”, which has 150 militants in its ranks.
“They plan, execute and mount attacks after going through full training across the Line of Control (LoC). This attack was meticulously planned there. The operations planned from there are flawless. They have time and resources. That is why Jaish attacks in Uri and then in Jammu were so daring,” he said.
“We have almost 90 percent confirmation that the militants who stormed the DPL had arrived just 15 days ago from across the border. It has been their trademark to cross the LoC and swiftly launch a pin-point attack to mount heavy causalities,” the officer added.
Soon after the encounter was over, it was seen that the militants had scribbled on a pillar inside the ruined building, “We avenged the killing of Afzal Guru”.
Guru, a Kashmiri prisoner, was convicted for his alleged role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. He was executed on February 9, 2013, inside Tihar Jail in secrecy.
The police officer said there was no strong presence of Jaish in south Kashmir.
“In 2014, around 25 Jaish militants sneaked inside Kashmir though Kupwara. Half of them, led by Adil Pathan, shifted to south Kashmir. They used to work together with Hizb as the slain Burhan Wani was very accommodative. Later on, all of them got killed,” the officer said.
He said that currently, the Jaish presence was almost negligible.
“We are almost sure that this attack was carried out independently,” he said.