Updated: August 18, 2021 7:42:57 am
FOLLOWING THE arrests of at least 16 suspected militants, recovery of arms and ammunition from them, three drone drops and multiple intelligence inputs over the last few months, security agencies suspect that Pakistan-backed militant groups are planning to target either temples or Hindu-dominated areas in Jammu in a bid to trigger communal tension.
* On February 6, J&K Police arrested Hidayatullah Malik alias Hasnain, an alleged category A operative of Jaish-e-Mohammed-linked Lashkar-e-Mustafa outfit, from Kunjwani Chowk in Jammu, and recovered two pistols and a hand grenade from his possession. Six of his associates were arrested later. Interrogation of the accused revealed that the group was tasked with targeting any prominent temple in Jammu, said sources.
* On February 13, police said they had busted a module of the Al Badr outfit which was attempting to plant a timer IED at the Jammu bus stand. Four operatives and overground workers were arrested.
* On April 14, police arrested Kupwara resident and alleged ISJK (Islamic State in Jammu and Kashmir) operative Aqib Bashir Parray alias Asadullah from the outskirts of Jammu city. Police claimed he was in the area to strengthen the outfit’s network and launch an attack that would target civilians.
* On June 26, police said they had recovered an IED from Nadeem-Ul-Haq, a resident of Banihal, in Ramban district of Jammu. Police said he was an overground worker of the LeT-affiliated The Resistance Force. Two of his associates were later arrested. The same night, two drones dropped two IEDs at an IAF base in the city.
* On July 11, alleged LeT operative Muntizar Ahmed Bhat, a resident of Pulwama, was nabbed in Jammu. Police said they had recovered a pistol and two hand grenades from him, and claimed that he was tasked with targeting a prominent temple in the city.
* On the intervening night of July 22-23, police recovered a drone with an IED in Guran Patan area of Jammu. However, no arrest was made in the case.
“All the IEDs – barring those targeting the IAF base – have been confirmed to have been dropped by drones that took flight from Pakistan. It has also been found that the IEDs were meant to be blasted in Jammu city to target crowded Hindu areas,” said a senior official.
“While terror attacks are frequently mounted in Jammu, they always target security forces. Religious places are rarely touched. Since early 2000s, there haven’t been such attacks in the region. The only purpose of such attacks appears to be to fan communal passions,” said a J&K Police officer.
The development is also being associated with the recent changes in Afghanistan. “Pakistan sees withdrawal of American forces and Taliban’s takeover of the country as a victory of Islam. It appears that it wants to give the same colour to its campaign in J&K. That is not a good sign as Kashmiris have always articulated their struggle as political,” said a senior security establishment officer.
The last time a major terror attack was mounted on a religious place in Jammu was in 2002. The city’s Raghunath Temple was targeted twice that year.
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