Manhunt to nab J&K terrorists

| | Jammu
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Manhunt to nab J&K terrorists

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | Mohit Kandhari | Jammu

Manhunt to nab J&K terrorists

A day after suspected Pakistani terrorists desperately tried to widen the 'arc of terror', by targeting a passenger bus ferrying pilgrims via Shiv Khori Shrine to the Katra base camp in Reasi district, a joint team of security forces involving elite para commandos of the Indian Army on Monday launched a massive manhunt to track down the perpetrators behind the 'dastardly' attack. Despite the terror attack pilgrims remained undeterred as they arrived in large numbers to offer prayers at the Shiv Khori shrine on Monday.

While supervising the ongoing search operations in the area, Senior Superintendent of Police, Reasi, Mohita Sharma told reporters on ground zero at least two terrorists were involved in the terror attack on Sunday.

A total number of nine people, including four members of a family from Jaipur in Rajasthan, were killed and 41 others received critical injuries when their bus came under attack by a group of hiding terrorists. It is believed the terrorists belong to the same group of foreign terrorists responsible for targeting Army personnel in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in recent months.

To plug all the escape routes security forces, including the Army, police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), have laid a multi-layered cordon along the Teryath-Poni-Shiv Khori area bordering the Rajouri district to neutralise them at the earliest.

The security forces are expected to remain on their tenterhooks in the run-up to the beginning of the Amarnath yatra from June 29 as pilgrims from different parts of the country are scheduled to perform the pilgrimage. The Union Territory administration had already demanded the deployment of additional paramilitary forces during the yatra period to ensure incident-free pilgrimage.

Armed with surveillance equipment, including drones and sniffer dogs, a massive combing operation was underway in the adjoining areas of the Reasi district to instil confidence among the local population and the pilgrims visiting the religious places and other tourist destinations in the close vicinity during the summer break.

Meanwhile, a local team of the National Investigation Agency, State Investigation Agency (SIA)   and sleuths of the Forensic department also visited the spot of the terror attack to lift samples ahead of initiating a comprehensive probe.  Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police RR Swain along with ADGP, Jammu Anand Jain also visited the terror spot on Monday and took stock of the ongoing operation.

According to survivors of the Reasi terror attack,  at least two terrorists were involved in the gruesome attack on a pilgrim bus. Santosh Kumar, who was undergoing treatment in District Hospital Reasi, told local reporters that a terrorist, dressed in combat fatigue, face covered with black patka,  opened indiscriminate fire targeting the driver of the bus. The driver, according to the eyewitness, received a bullet injury on his forehead and lost control of the bus before it rolled down into a deep gorge. The terrorists, according to the eyewitness, opened fire on passengers when they were struggling to come out of the wreckage of the bus after it veered off the road. According to hospital records, at least 10 passengers received gunshot injuries in the terror attack.

This is the fourth major terrorist strike in the Jammu region since January 1, 2024.  An IAF soldier was martyred and four others were injured when terrorists ambushed their vehicle at Surankote in Poonch district on May 4.

On April 28, 2024, a Village Defence Guard (VDC) was martyred in a terror attack at Basantgarh in Udhampur district.

 A Social Welfare Department (SWD) official was killed by the terrorists in Rajouri on April 22. His brother, a Territorial Army jawan, who was the target, survived the attack after he took shelter at a safe location.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Reasi) Vishesh Paul Mahajan in a statement said all nine victims, including the driver and the conductor of the bus, have been identified.

Driver Vijay Kumar hailed from the Dasanoo Rajbagh village while conductor Arun Kumar was a native of Kandera village in Katra, both in the Reasi district.

The other victims are Rajinder Prasad Pandey Sawhney, Mamta Sawhney, Pooja Sawhney and her two-year-old son Titu Sawhney - all residents of Jaipur in Rajasthan - and Shivam Gupta, Ruby and 14-year-old Anurag Verma from Uttar Pradesh.

Mahajan said the district administration is sending the bodies to their respective states. He added that 41 people aged between three and 50 were injured in the attack. Of them, 10 suffered gunshot injuries and are stable after undergoing surgeries.

Eighteen injured are undergoing treatment at the Government Medical College in Jammu, 14 at Narayana Hospital and nine at the district hospital in Reasi, Mahajan said.

Among the injured, 34 are from Uttar Pradesh, five from Delhi and two from Rajasthan, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha visited injured passengers at GMC and Narayana hospitals on Monday and said the terrorist attack was part of a nefarious design to spread turmoil in the Jammu region. Such attempts would be thwarted, he asserted.

LG Manoj Sinha  earlier announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 10 lakh to be given to the next of kin of pilgrims martyred in the Reasi terror attack. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000. The injured pilgrims are being treated at different hospitals in Jammu & Reasi. 

At several places anti-Pakistan protests also broke out across the Jammu region, including Katra, Doda town and Kathua district, calling for increased security measures to prevent such incidents. Accusing Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the protesters demanded action against the neighbouring country. 

Timeline of terror attacks on security forces

*December 21, 2023: Five Army soldiers were martyred and two others were injured in a terror attack at Dera Ki Gali, Surankote in Poonch district.

* November 22, 2023: Two Captains were among 5 soldiers who attained martyrdom while two foreign terrorists were killed in two-day-long gun battle at Bajimaal in Dharamshal area of Kalakote tehsil in Rajouri district.

* May 5, 2023: Five Army para-commandos martyred and Major injured in an IED blast at Kandi, Rajouri.

* July 18, 2023: Four dreaded Pakistani terrorists were killed by Army at Sindhara Top in Surankote tehsil of Poonch.

* April 20, 2023: Five Army bravehearts sacrificed their lives at Bhatta Durrian in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district.

* January 1, 2023: Seven civilians of minority community, two of them minors, were killed in firing and IED blast triggered by two foreign militants at village Dhangri in Rajouri district.

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