(From left to right) IGP Kashmir S P Pani and Lt Gen K S Dhillon during a joint briefing by the Army, the CRPF and the Jammu and Kashmir Police at Chinar Corps headquarters at Badami Bagh Cantonment in Sonwar area of Srinagar. (Source: Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)
The Indian Army Tuesday confirmed that three terrorists – the leadership of the Jaish-e-Mohammad in the Kashmir Valley – were eliminated in an operation that began late Sunday night and lasted 17 hours. Lt Gen KJS Dhillion, 15 Corps Commander, said: “I would like to inform the nation that in less than 100 hours of the Pulwama terrorist attack, we have eliminated the Jaish-e-Mohammad leadership in the Valley which was being handled by the JeM leadership in Pakistan.” Lt Gen Dhillion also added that families in the Valley should convince their children not to pick up weapons. “Anyone who picks up guns in Kashmir will be eliminated, unless they surrender. This is a message to all the mothers of Kashmir,” he said.
Asked about the involvement of Pakistan in the attack, Lt Gen Dhillion said the JeM was a ‘child’ of the Pakistani Army and they, as well as the ISI, had a role to play in the February 14 attacks. “There is no doubt that Pakistan Army and the ISI is involved. JeM is a child of the Pakistan Army,” he said.
Pulwama attack: Probe finds car bumper, remains of can in which explosives were packed
On the type of explosive used in the February 14 attack, Lt Gen Dhillion said it was a matter of investigation and details would not be made public as yet. “The type of car bomb attack that took place in Pulwama on February 14 happened after a long time in Kashmir. We will keep all options open to deal with these kinds of attacks. We have leads on the type of explosives used but I can’t share the details as an investigation is underway.”
SP Pani, IGP Kashmir, said there was a significant dip in recruitment. “We have not seen any recruitment (by militants) in the last three months. The families are playing a huge role in this (youth not joining militancy). We would like to urge the families and the community (to continue helping) in curtailing recruitment.”
At least 40 CRPF jawans were killed on February 14 when a convoy of buses carrying security personnel was attacked by an explosive-laden vehicle driven by a JeM terrorist. The attack was the worst in the history of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
In the encounter that began late Sunday night and continued till Monday evening, four army personnel, including a Major, were killed. The encounter took place in Pinglena area of Pulwama district. The four Army men have been identified as Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, Hawaldar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Hari Singh and Sepoy Ajay Kumar.
Zulfiquar Hasan of the CRPF said a helpline-14411 has been helping Kashmiris across the country in wake of this attack. “A lot of Kashmiri students have approached this helpline for help all over the country. All Kashmiri children studying outside have been taken care of by security forces.”
In a statement released Monday night, the Jammu & Kashmir Police said three terrorists were killed and one identified as Hilal, a resident of Pinglena Pulwama. Two terrorists have been identified as Pakistanis. According to police records, all the three killed terrorists were affiliated with JeM and were wanted in a series of terror crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. One of the Pakistani terrorists identified as Kamran had taken over as operational commander of JeM after Mufti Waqas who was killed in an encounter in February last year.
Kamran, J&K police say, remained active in Pulwama and Awantipora since 2017 and had a history of terror crime records. He was responsible for the recruitment of people to the terror fold and several terror crime cases were registered against him. His role in the recent terror attack on CRPF at Lethpora is being probed as well.
Arms & ammunition including rifles were recovered from the site of encounter.
The Army also asked residents not to venture inside the encounter zone during and after the encounter as it could prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. “People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials if any,” the police said.