Sunjuwan Attack: Kashmiri Driver Arrested For Ferrying Attackers From Samba

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday late night claimed to have arrested driver of a truck who had transported the fidayeen from International Border of village Supwal in Samba district to Sunjuwan, reported Daily Excelsior.

ADGP Jammu Mukesh Singh along with other senior police officers addressing a press conference over Sunjuwan encounter

According to report, Bilal Ahmad Wagay son of Khursheed Ahmad Wagay, a resident of Kokernag in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, a truck operator was arrested by Police tonight from Pulwama.

Quoting police the report said that he had taken two militants from the International Border of Supwal near Samba and transported them to Sunjuwan a day before the attack, and then escaped to Pulwama.

“Wagay arranged stay of the militants in the house of Mohammad Iqbal Rather son of Abdul Rehman Rather, originally a resident of Ahahmadabad, DH Pora Malwan in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, who has also constructed a house at Jalalabad in Sunjuwan,” the report quoted police as having said.

“The stay was arranged with the help of Shafiq Ahmad Sheikh son of Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh of Mir Mohalla, Tral.”

Quoting Police newspaper Daily Excelsior reported that Wagay and Shafiq have been arrested as their involvement in conspiracy to carry out attack at Sunjuwan through two fidayeen has been established.

However, Mohammad Iqbal Rather has been detained for questioning but not arrested as yet. His arrest, however, hasn’t been ruled out.

Shafiq’s brother Asif Ahmad Sheikh is also involved in the conspiracy and is absconding. Jammu Police has launched manhunt to nab Asif as he is an important link in the entire case, said the report.

Police said that Asif Ahmad Sheikh had arranged mobile telephones for the militants besides rendering other required help to them.

It may be mentioned that both fidayeen were killed and a CRPF ASI was killed in nearly five-hour long encounter at Sunjuwan on Friday morning while 10 security personnel were injured.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, Additional DGP Jammu Mukesh Singh said as per one of the arrested persons, the slain militants were Pashto speaking either from a village in Pakistan bordering Afghanistan or from Afghanistan itself.

Singh was joined in the press conference by DIG Jammu Vivek Gupta and SSP Jammu Chandan Kohli among others.

The ADGP said a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was registered at police station Bahu Fort in connection with the encounter.

“The technical analysis of the CCTVs in the Jallalabad area as well as highway corroborates the disclosure of the arrested persons,” the ADGP said.

He said Sheikh also disclosed that the two militants were not speaking Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi or Urdu.

“When he was made to hear Pashto, he immediately recognised the language of the militants which indicate that they were either from an area of Pakistan border near Afghanistan or Afghanistan itself,” Singh said.

Responding to a question about the route taken by the militants to infiltrate into this side from Pakistan, the officer said whether they came through an underground tunnel or crossed the border fence is part of the investigation, which is underway.

“After the encounter, police teams worked tirelessly day and night to establish the identity of the conspirators who were behind this plan to carry out a suicide attack in Jammu,” he said.

On the basis of technical analysis and evidence, the police first zeroed in on Sheikh, who works at a walnut factory at Narwal, which is not far away from the scene of the encounter, Singh said.

The ADGP said Sheikh and his brother Asif are deeply involved with militants of JeM.

“Asif created a telegram ID called ‘Pagal Jamaat’ (Mad group) for Shafeeq and also provided him a mobile phone with a SIM card.He also contacted a JeM commander in Pakistan by the name of ‘Veer’, his telegram identity,” Singh said.

He said the commander of JeM instructed him to go to Jammu to receive a group of suicide attackers who will be brought by someone.
Though he did not disclose his name, the person was identified as Sheikh who set out on the instructions of JeM commander from Kashmir’s Pulwama at 10 am on April 20 and reached Jammu around evening time.

“He stayed at Transport Nagar and at around 12 am (midnight), he set out for Supwal (border) in Samba and picked up two militants of JeM. They boarded a medium size truck loaded with empty vegetable crates and neatly created cavity among the crates for hiding the militants,” the police officer said.

They reached Jallabad locality of Sunjwan around 2.30 am and Wagay, his co-driver and two militants were found in the truck there.

Sheikh received the militants and took them to his house where they stayed during the day and discussed their plans with their handlers across the border, Singh said.

The plan was to take them to the nearest security location and inflict maximum causalities on the security forces, to discourse the VVIP visit, the ADGP said, referring to the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Palli Panchayat in Samba on Sunday.

“Before these people could set out for their mission, we received intelligence inputs that there are two militants and a cordon was laid with other security forces. The militants were holed up throughout the night,” he said, adding had they moved out, they could have caused huge damage but “we managed to keep them there and successfully eliminated them.”

He said that they were picked up from Sapwal border in Samba was further collaborated by the CCTV evidence along the way.

“We are working on the leads and are hopeful to arrest both the absconding accused person soon. Our counterparts in Kashmir are also actively pursuing the leads and more arrests are likely as the investigation progresses,” he said.

Asked about reports suggesting infiltration of some more militants into this side, the officer said this group consisted of only two members, adding further investigation is on.

Meanwhile, NIA chief Kuldiep Singh on Saturday visited Sunjuwan area.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief, who reached Jammu on Friday evening, was accompanied by Inspector General of CRPF, Jammu sector, P S Ranpise.

Singh, who is also the Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force, was briefed about the gun battle by CRPF officers, including Commandant of 38th Battalion Dhirendra Verma, the officials said.

The NIA director general also visited the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally at Palli panchayat in Samba district and reviewed the security situation, they said.

“Yes, a major attack was thwarted (by security forces),” Singh said after receiving the briefing about the encounter.

Asked whether the NIA will take over the case, he said, “It will depend… We will see, nothing can be said at the moment.”

On the security arrangements for the prime minister’s visit, he said all the necessary arrangements will be made.

Later, the officials said, Singh visited Palli panchayat and was briefed by senior officers about the security arrangements there.
Special teams of the NIA and the State Investigation Agency (SIA) had visited the encounter site on Friday evening.

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