Updated: February 8, 2018 7:01:54 pm
In a major breakthrough, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have arrested at least four people who are believed to have helped Pakistani militant Naveed Jat alias Hanzulla escape from custody during a hospital visit. Raids were carried out at several locations in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts last night during which arrests were made.
“The SIT started the probe and due to scientific evidence we ascertained who or what were involved. They were identified, raids were conducted. We apprehended two terrorists and two Over Ground Workers. After their arrest we are left with Naveed and another terrorist who are still at large,” said ADGP Muneer Khan in a press conference.
Talking about the escape of Pakistani militant during the attack, Khan said, “It is not ‘you couldn’t catch them, they overtook us,’ no! Appreciate officers’ efforts who cracked case in limited time. We could’ve fired in hospital but we would’ve killed civilians. We are Police officers not terrorists, we don’t believe in killing innocents, they do.”
Two policemen were killed at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital on Tuesday after militants opened fire on a police team accompanying detainees from the Central Jail to the hospital for a medical check-up. Jat had escaped from custody during the attack.
A top police officer told The Indian Express that the house where Naveed was staying after the escape has also been raided. “Unfortunately, the militant had escaped 10 minutes before the house was raided in south Kashmir,’’ he said, adding that police have made several arrests in this case. Police have also seized the bike that was used in the escape.
Meanwhile, the J&K government on Thursday suspended Superintendent of Central Jail, Srinagar pending inquiry.
Last night, Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Riyaz Naiko, in an audio message, said Naveed and the militant who rescued him had reached a safe destination.
Jat, a resident of Chak No 421, Vehari district in Pakistan’s Multan, was arrested in Kulgam in 2014 and was then LeT’s district commander and a close associate of Abu Qasim and Abu Dujana — both LeT Kashmir chiefs — who were subsequently killed by security forces. According to police records, Jat had joined LeT in 2011 and had infiltrated the Valley in October 2012. Police said that Jat was involved in three murder cases in 2013 in Pulwama and was facing trial in a number of cases across Kashmir.
Jat’s escape, police sources said, will motivate the LeT, which has faced a rout after its commander Abu Ismail was killed in an encounter last year. According to police, Jat’s escape is expected to reactivate the LeT’s vast network in south Kashmir, which has remained dormant after the death of Abu Qasim, Abu Dujana and Abu Ismail.
Police sources said Jat who was active in south Kashmir for two years before his arrest would have preferred to go to south Kashmir as has already a network of overground workers there and now could be hiding in some part of south Kashmir. The police sources further said that for some time, Jat will try to hide before he could try to reactivate the Lashkar in south Kashmir.
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