“The terrorists were here in the past, too, and had once even set up a check post, but our elders fought them. We will not allow them to return.”
A day after their capture of two heavily armed LeT militants, which drew praise and a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh from J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, the residents of Tukson village in Reasi district’s Mahore tehsil remain firm: they will not give way to terrorists, at any cost.
With nearly 300-350 households, Tukson’s population comprises mostly Kashmiri Muslims who moved from the Valley over 50 years ago. According to police, the two militants, Talib Hussain Shah and Faizal Ahmed Dar, were captured in one of the 10-12 dhoks or covered dwellings situated on a higher altitude, about an hour’s walk from the village, where people move with cattle during summer and return before winter.
One of the residents involved in the capture, a BA student, told The Indian Express over phone that around 7.45 pm on Saturday, two “unknown people posing as traders” came to a dhok where a 50-year-old man was staying with his wife and daughter, a Class 9 student. The man got suspicious after the two asked him to switch off his mobile phone, the student said.
Subscriber Only Stories
“Around 10-10.15 pm, he managed to step out on the pretext of answering the call of nature and called his brother, who is a truck driver, in Tukson. He alerted him about the arrival of the two suspicious looking people and that he was scared for his life,” the student said.
The truck driver contacted others, including a school teacher, two Class 12 students and another driver. “Soon, a gathering of seven reached the dhok by 11.30 pm and without alerting the terrorists and the civilians staying inside, silently formed a cordon through the night,” said another resident who helped overpower the militants.
“Around 5 am, we entered the dhok through a window and saw the terrorists still asleep. Two of us removed the bags lying near them, and the others overpowered them. Faizal Dar appeared to be a new recruit and was overpowered easily, but Talib resisted until we tied him up with ropes,” he said.
It was then that they called a local police officer following which a joint security team reached the spot and took custody of the militants.
According to the police, Talib Shah was the “mastermind” behind several terror incidents in the Pir Panjal region over the past 2-3 years, including the recent blasts in Rajouri’s Kotranka area in which four people were injured. “The terrorists seemed to have lost their way and reached Tukson,” another local resident said.
On Sunday, Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Colonel Devender Anand attributed the capture of the two militants to “security forces assisting villagers in organising themselves into Village Defence Committees and giving them training to operate and fire rifles’’.
Another Takson resident said they had “a little bit of training from Rashtriya Rifles on how to save ourselves in case of contact with terrorists in forests or isolated areas”. “But the thought of these terrorists targeting innocent civilians, with Independence Day coming up, gave us the courage to overpower them,” he said.
“We are ready to die for our country, the Government should ensure the security of our families,’’ he said. On Monday, DGP Dilbagh Singh and Additional DGP (Jammu) Mukesh Singh visited Mahore tehsil and reviewed security arrangements in the area.
Scientists probing spike in cases look at Omicron sub-variant