Pampore attack in J-K: Intelligence picked up chatter of 8 terrorists crossing Line of Control in June

Intelligence sources say they believe Pampore attack was organised by Ruhul Amin Dar, who has emerged as a key organiser for LeT’s networks in the area.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: June 28, 2016 8:31:26 pm
pampore, pampore attack, kashmir attack, indian army, CRPF, crpf killed, jawan killed, crpf pampore, army took credit, army tweets, lashkar militants, pampore attack updates, crpf men died, terrorism, what happened in pampore, indian express news, india news Following the attack, police sources said, Dar is believed to have driven to a hideout near his home village, to join up with two of the four fidayeen originally assigned to him.

Even as warnings have emerged that the Lashkar-e-Taiba unit responsible for Saturday’s strike on the CRPF is preparing for a fresh fidayeen attack on military targets, reports received by the Home Ministry from police and intelligence services in Kashmir have flagged serious gaps in an Army-led programme to protect security force convoys moving along the strategically vital National Highway 44.

Intelligence sources say they believe Saturday’s attack was organised by Ruhul Amin Dar, a one-time resident of the village of Vissu in south Kashmir’s Qazigund district, who has emerged as a key organiser for LeT’s networks in the area. The Lashkar commander, intelligence sources said, is now thought to be in charge of one of two units preparing fresh strikes.

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Following the attack, police sources said, Dar is believed to have driven to a hideout near his home village, to join up with two of the four fidayeen originally assigned to him. The four were from a group of elite fighters sent across the Line of Control in mid-June.

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Read | Pampore attack: Focus shifts to Lashkar’s new operational commander

Lashkar fidayeen from the same group of infiltrators, intelligence officials said, are known to have been despatched to Majid Zargar, the commander for the organisation’s networks in Kulgam district.

Read | Pampore attack: ‘3 CRPF men who died fired 90 rounds’

Zargar’s four fidayeen, sources said, are thought to have been distributed between villages in the districts of Kulgam and Shopian, until called on to assemble for an attack.

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On Friday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that he “doubted if the standard operating procedure was followed properly” — in what was widely read as a criticism of the CRPF.

Read | Pampore militant attack: 2016 could well be the ‘hot summer’ for security agencies

However, security officials in both New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir have told the Home Ministry that responsibility for securing the CRPF unit’s movement along the highway lay with the Army.

Read | Pampore attack: Army, CRPF fought to take credit for terrorist deaths

In February, following an attack on a CRPF convoy just kilometres from the site of Saturday’s killings, the Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps had been assigned responsibility for corridor protection for all security force movement. Code named HIDCOPS, it restored a security system shut down six years earlier, when it was deemed unnecessary.

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But following a June 3 attack which claimed the lives of three personnel, BSF commanders in Kashmir complained that no corridor protection forces had been in place.

In response, at a June 7 security review meeting held in Khanabal, Lieutenant-General Satish Kumar Dua, the 15 Corps Commander, assured the forces that the system would be reviewed and gaps filled.

However, Home Ministry sources said that a company of the 50 Rashtriya Rifles assigned to Pampore specifically for corridor protection took over 20 minutes to reach the site of Saturday’s attack from its base, some four kilometres away.

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Home Ministry officials are scheduled to arrive in Srinagar on Tuesday to interview officials and others linked to investigations of Saturday’s ambush, in order to prepare a full report for Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Police sources say that Dar used a white Tata Sumo van to drive the two fidayeen along National Highway 44, which runs east to west past Srinagar and its suburbs, in search of unprotected police or military targets on Friday.

Failing in this task, the group then parked itself on a sharp bend on the highway near Pampore where traffic has to slow down, waiting for a target of opportunity, police investigators believe.

It remains unclear why convoy protection forces were not in place at a likely position for an ambush.

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Lashkar networks in south Kashmir are tightly drawn from the ranks of the Jama’at Ahl-e-Hadith — a neo-fundamentalist religious order which first made its appearance in Kashmir in the 1920s, appealing to a new literate middle class that was opposed to the region’s peasant syncretist religious practices.

The Lashkar’s leadership in Pakistan itself is tightly linked to the Ahl-e-Hadith, though many within the religious order there, as well as in Kashmir, oppose the terrorist group’s practices and beliefs.

Early this month, Zargar acted against the Lashkar’s opponents within the Ahl-e-Hadith in south Kashmir, assassinating Assistant Sub-Inspector Bashir Ahmad Ahanger.

The organisation has benefited, police sources say, from the close relationship Zargar has been able to forge with a new generation of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen operatives from the same region.

Zargar, police allege, cooperated with Bijbehara-based Hizb operative Amir Nabi Wagay to stage the June 3 attack on a BSF convoy which claimed the lives of three soldiers.

Police investigators believe the two organisations may also have collaborated in the December 7, 2015 and February 20, 2016 attacks on CRPF convoys near Pampore.

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