How Mahore Villagers Caught Two Militants Including BJP’s Former Activist?  

SRINAGAR: The incident was so huge that the Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha quickly announced a reward for the group of Mahore villagers who caught two militants. Police Chief also chipped in with another Rs 2 lakh reward. The “operation” was devised and implemented by the villagers without even having a single weapon. They were not VDCs as well.

It has been a rare case but not the first one, however. Earlier, a young lady used an axe to kill a militant who had attacked her brother.

The militants, according to police were from Lashkar-e-Toiba. They were identified as Faizal Ahmad Dar son of Bashir Ahmad Dar, a resident of Pulwama and Talib Hussain Shah, son of Haider Shah, a resident of Rajouri. The latter was later identified to be an earlier BJP local functionary, where he headed the party’s Rajouri IT cell.

The incident took place at Tukson dhok in Mahore (Reasi) during the wee hours of July 3, 2022. Details published by the media suggest that the militant duo approached one family for food and they felt convinced that they were militants and made them take refuge at their home.

“The house owner rang up his brother after getting out and some neighbours. The people acting cautiously gave no chance to the heavily-armed militants to open firing and overpowered them,” a Jammu-based newspaper reported. “They tied the militants with a rope after snatching their weapons. In the meantime, they informed local police.”

Before pouncing upon them, the residents had taken tactfully disarmed them by taking away their two AK rifles, seven grenades, a pistol and ammunition. It was kept separate till police came and took possession of the weapons.

There is another story of the incident. One of the residents who were part of the operation that led to the capture of the militants said the duo had approached a family and “told them to switch off the phones”. However, a villager told militants that he needs to use the washroom. “He called me and told me about the terrorists and also asked me not to call him back, else they will kill him. They were all sleeping when we reached there. We waited till morning. Shabir Ahmed (one of the villagers) took their bags out,” DNA quoted one of the villagers said. “Just then, one of them (two terrorists) jumped on me and I fell down. My brother’s son held him from the back before he could attack me again. My uncle’s son reached there too. We tied the one who was younger; he told us that he was into this for the last six years. The second one was very dangerous. We tied them and called SDPO.”

As the news spread, a number of police and paramilitary officers reached the spot. Soon, praises and rewards started showering on the small hamlet.

“Such determination by common man shows the end of terrorism is not far away,” LG Sinha tweeted and announced Rs 5 lakh reward to the villagers for the gallant act. Director-General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh also announced Rs 2 lakh reward.

Quickly both the militants were subjected to sustained interrogation. On Shah’s disclosures, police raided Draj area in Rajouri and recovered six sticky bombs, one pistol along with three magazines, including two Glock pistols and one 30 bore pistol, one under-barrel grenade launcher (UBGL) along with three UBGL grenades, 75 rounds of AK-47, 15 rounds of Glock pistol and four rounds of 30 bore, besides an improvised explosive device (IED) remote with an antenna.

However, what made the incident very special was the revelation that Talib was a BJP activist and even headed the rightwing party’s IT Cell. His Facebook page revealed many stories. “Talib Shah Bjp Bjp’’ is one part of his FB identity that carries “a purported photograph” of him with Ravinder Raina, BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir president Raina. Another photograph carried a message: “I support NaMo’’.

A Delhi-based newspaper asked BJP’s Minority Morcha president Sheikh Bashir about Talib, who revealed that Taliab Shah was made in charge of the IT and social media cell of the Morcha on May 9, 2022, as he had already been working for the party for quite some time. “However, he did not attend any of the organisation meetings and later on May 27, he himself quit the party position and the organisation,” Bashir was quoted as saying.

J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina, however, said Shah was never even a primary member of the party. He described his Facebook page carrying photographs of BJP leaders as “a tactic by terror groups to show themselves as party workers so as to have access to party leaders and attack them at the first opportunity”.

In Srinagar, Congress said the BJP must explain the “presence of dreaded terrorists” in its ranks. Talib, it said, was enjoying party “patronage” in getting important assignments.

Ravinder Raina said that Talib was “part of the conspiracy hatched from Pakistan to target him and the party headquarters.” Revealing that Talib developed a close liaison with party activists and leaders after coming to the party headquarters, he said the security agencies told him that he was a mole. Raina said Talib was not a BJP member.

“A couple of years ago, Talib Hussain along with his three colleagues used to come to the BJP office as a media person. He had also interviewed me many times, he used to call himself a reporter for a YouTube channel named New Sehar India,” Raina has said in an interview. “As a journalist, Hussain clicked photos with us many times in the BJP office.” He offered no more details other than thanking the Mahore residents for capturing him.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police, however, have a different story. They said Talib was on the run after his two associates; Mohammad Shabir and Mohammad Sadiq were arrested from Draj on June 28. They believe Talib was behind the twin explosions that rocked Koteranka (Rajouri) on March 26 and April 19, leaving two persons injured. Another blast took place on April 24, at Shahpur-Budhal on April 24. Police believe Talib was active for the last three years. Besides, police have said that the captured duo was in touch with a Pakistan-based LeT handler identified as Salman Qasim.

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