Two heavily armed Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists were killed by the Army at the Line of Control in Nowgam sector of Kupwara district in north Kashmir as they tried to infiltrate into the Valley from Pakistan side by cutting the anti-infiltration fenceon Saturday.
The terrorists are suspected to be part of Pakistan’s effort to scale up violence in Jammu and Kashmir to mark the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370. One of the two terrorists has been identified as 23-year-old Idrees Ahmad Bhat, a local from Kupwara’s Handwara area who had gone to Pakistan via Wagah border in 2018. “We believe the two are part of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba ,” a senior police officer said. The second man, unidentified so far, is suspected to be a foreign terrorist.
Besides AK 47 assault rifles and hundreds of bullets, the terrorists killed on Saturday also had a pistol made in China and four grenades based on Austrian technology that had been made by Pakistan’s ordnance factory. The grenades are concrete evidence that links the terrorists to the Pakistan army and government, said a top J&K police officer.
Similar grenades were also used by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who stormed Parliament in 2001. The 480-gram anti-personnel grenade is filled with 95 gram of highly explosive organic compound PETN and 5,000 steel balls, designed to kill or maim everyone in a 20-metre radius.
In the Saturday morning encounter with the army’s Sikh Light Infantry soldiers deployed on the anti-infiltration grid, the two terrorists were shot before they could come down to using them.
A senior police officer said the soldiers had spotted the two terrorists moving from an area close to a Pakistani Post across Nowgam sector in Kupwara district. They had cut the fence to cross the LoC and were stopped by the soldiers about 50-100 metres later. Major General Virendra Vats, GOC 19 division, said the soldiers took appropriate response to eliminate the terrorists trying to infiltrate by cutting the anti-infiltration fence.
Top counter-terror officers said the infiltration attempt came at a time the security grid was on high alert over intelligence inputs that terror groups sponsored by Pakistan’s ISI could use load-carrying Chinese commercial drones – like the ones used to smuggle weapons and drugs into Punjab – to ferry firearms and explosives to its terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
The army is working to deploy anti-drone systems to shoot down such drones in sensitive systems.
Officials said security agencies had been able to prevent the Pakistan-based terror groups from carrying out most of the deadliest terror strikes through the summer, the first after India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5-6 last year.
Given that much of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s pitch against India is centered around Kashmir’s scrapped special status, a senior police officer said it was but natural that Islamabad and Rawalpindi would like to see terror strikes that help Imran Khan put the focus on the situation in the Kashmir valley.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry and its leadership routinely attacks India for killing terrorists in encounters, describing them as innocent Kashmiris. According to the Indian security establishment, a large number of terrorists killed in Kashmir this year are Pakistani nationals.