The Jammu and Kashmir police have launched a hunt for two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants who reportedly sneaked into the forest areas of Poonch from across the Line of Control,according to a tip-off from an LeT militant arrested last Thursday.
Identified as Mohammad Bashir and Khalil Ahmed,both residents of Pakistan’s Punjab province,sources said that the duo had,along with one Mohammad Khursheed,been asked to cross over to Poonch by the Lashkar-e-Toiba in order to find safe infiltration routes along the LoC. However,Khursheed,who hails from Baghial Dara,was arrested at a naka manned by the Army at Malti Gate on the outskirts of Poonch last week.
Even as Northern Command’s official spokesman Colonel D K Kachari denied any knowledge of the matter,well placed sources in the police requesting anonymity,quoting Khursheed,revealed that the trio managed to sneak into Indian territory from near Ruzan Post on the intervening night of January 25-26. However,Khursheed who wanted to abandon militancy gave a slip to his accomplices immediately after entering the dense forest area on the Indian side of the border.
Sources said that while Khursheed was on his way to Poonch town to surrender to the police after a few days,the three-wheeler he was travelling in was stopped by army jawans at Malti Gate for a routine check. Unable to produce an I-card,Khursheed reportedly confessed his intention to surrender to the authorities and was immediately arrested and after preliminary questioning,handed over to the police at Poonch.
He revealed during his interrogation that he had crossed over to PoK from Baghial Dara in 2006 and was subsequently arrested by the Pakistani Army. After the completion of his sentence,he was taken by Lashkar militants to a camp in Lahore where he was imparted 15 days training in the handling of weapons. In view of the stepped-up vigil along the LoC,the LeT had then asked the trio to find safe infiltration routes along the border.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Hqrs),Rafiq Chowdhary,admitted that Khursheed was unarmed at the time of his arrest and an AK 56 rifle along with ammunition,a night vision device and a camera was seized at his instance from the forests later on. “We had already registered an FIR against him in 2006 when he crossed over to PoK,” Chowdhary said,adding that he had been sent to the joint interrogation centre at Jammu.