One police constable was killed and three others injured as two separate groups of heavily armed terrorists attacked Poonch town, with one storming into a private building ‘Joginder Mahal’ and adjoining Army’s brigade headquarter at Allapeer and holding a couple hostage, while another entrenching themselves in an under-construction Mini Secretariat building opposite the office of district police chief on Sunday morning.
Identifying the deceased as selection grade constable Rajinder Kumar, sources said that the hostages include Haji Nissar Mir and his wife Mumtaz Mir. The former belonged to well known and highly reputed Mir family who have been staunch supporters of Congress in the border district and were once considered close to late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Nissar’s cousin Jahangir Mir is at present Deputy Chairman of the State Legislative Council in the state.
The injured included Sub Inspector Manzoor Ahmed and domestic help Tari.
Though senior police and army officers were tightlipped, sources confirmed that two separate groups of terrorists were holded up with one inside the Joginder Mahal and another in Mini Secretariat. While two terrorists were believed to be inside Joginder Mahal, another 2-3 were holed up inside the under construction Mini Secretariat building.
Encounter with both the groups was in progress, with teams of elite 9 PARA and NSG commandos also airlanding in Poonch. “There has been firing on the police parties from different places.
The attack in Poonch came ahead of Eid festival, where last month 15 people were injured in a grenade attack on Buddha Amarnath pilgrims.
The couple, after injury to their domestic help Tariq, had locked themselves inside a room. “I contacted my younger brother Taj Mir in Poonch around 6 am and and he later contacted the police before himself rushing to the spot,” Muneer told Indian Express.
Sources said that terrorists appeared to have entered Joginder Mahal and Mini Secretariat building during wee hours. While there is only a wall separating Joginder Mahal from 93 Brigade headquarters, the under construction Mini Secretariat building is just across the road opposite to the office of district Superintendent of Police. Joginder Mahal, according to a member of the Mir family, once formed part of the Brigade Headquarters premises and it was used as Officers Mess by the Army until few years ago when Haji Nissar got the building vacated after litigation in the court.
Nissar, along with his wife, had been staying in first floor of the building in Poonch. Renovation work was going on at the ground floor because of which nobody was living there. The terrorists took an advantage of it and entered without getting noticed.