The Jammu and Kashmir Police claimed to have foiled a plan to disrupt the District Development Council (DDC) polls in the Union territory, starting November 28, with the killing of four Jaish-e-Mohammad militants near Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu city early Thursday morning.
Two police personnel were injured in the three-hour encounter near the Ban toll plaza, on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, that involved the CRPF and Army along with police.
IGP, Jammu zone, Mukesh Singh, said the four, who are yet to be identified, were on their way to Kashmir and, going by the quantity of arms and ammunition seized from them, were planning “something very big”. Eleven AK-47 rifles, three pistols, 29 grenades and other devices including mobile phones and medicines with Pakistani marking were seized from them. It is the biggest such arms haul in recent times in the Jammu division.
The police said that due to the amount of weapons, explosives and ammunition, the truck the militants were in caught fire during the encounter.
In Srinagar, as per a report by PTI, Kashmir IGP Vijay Kumar said the four militants were on their way to the Valley, and accused Pakistan of trying to cause trouble in the political process.
The police said the four militants were a “fresh group of infiltrators” suspected to have crossed over the evening before at the international border at Samba or the adjoining Hiranagar sector of Kathua. Their truck had crossed a toll plaza in Samba at 3.44 am.
IGP Singh said they had been receiving inputs about infiltration attempts, with weapons, since the announcement of the DDC polls, and vigilance had been stepped up. According to officials, the truck with the militants was stopped at a police naka at the Ban toll plaza around 5 am. While its driver fled, the men inside opened fire, injuring two of its personnel, the police said.
The forces responded swiftly, gunning down two militants, the police said. The other two were killed during the encounter that followed. The driver remains absconding.
Of late, there has been a spurt in infiltration attempts by militants along the international border in the Jammu division, and the BSF had earlier this month detected a damaged tunnel-like structure in the R S Pura Sector.
On January 31 this year, three alleged militants said to have freshly crossed over had been killed in a similar operation at the Ban toll plaza. The BSF had later detected a cross-border underground tunnel in the sector. Officials said there could be similar tunnels in other areas along the international border.
Militants involved in the 2019 Pulwama terror attack are also said to have entered the UT through a cross-border tunnel in the Samba Sector.
Senior officers, including the Jammu DIG and SSP and the CRPF IG visited the spot. Lt Governor Manoj Sinha visited the two injured police officers, Selection Grade Constable Mohammad Ishaq Malik and Constable Kuldeep Raj.
The DDC elections, being held in eight phases, with results to be declared on December 22, will the first major political activity in J&K since the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year. The polls will coincide with by-elections for 1,088 sarpanch and 12,153 panch posts in rural local bodies, and 234 vacancies in urban local bodies — most of them falling in the Kashmir division.
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