NEW DELHI: The four terrorists who were gunned by security forces during an encounter in Jammu & Kashmir‘s Nagrota on Thursday were tasked by the Pakistani spy agency ISI to carry out a Pulwama-like suicide attack and the mission was headed by the brother of Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar, senior government sources have told news agency ANI.
Sources revealed that Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf Ashgar had hand-picked four terrorists from the outfit’s Shakargarh camp in Pakistan near the Indian border to carry out a “major terror attack”. Another top terrorist, Qazi Tarar, had helped plan the attack.
On Thursday morning, the four terrorists were gunned down by security forces in Jammu’s Nagrota region. A huge cache of arms and ammunition along with several incriminating pieces of evidence, with origins in Pakistan, were recovered.
According to the sources, the terrorists had received suicide attack training in Pakistan and underwent specific drills to use available firepower and inflict maximum damage to Indian positions in the Kashmir valley.
The Jaish terrorists used a network of nullahs in the riverine border area to sneak into the Indian territory in the Samba sector and were picked up in a truck near Jatwal, six kilometers from Samba towards Kathua in Jammu.
After infiltrating into India, the terrorists were in constant touch with the Ashgar and Muhammed Asgar Khan Kashmiri, who is the operational commander of the Jaish in Kashmir.
An encounter ensued after the truck in which the four men were hiding was intercepted by the security forces at the Ban toll plaza at 4.45am.
According to the forces, the terrorists were raising slogans like Allah-u-Akbar, Islam Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad and Jaish zindabad when they were asked to surrender.
In August, TOI had reported that Indian intelligence was tipped about a meeting between Jaish’s de-facto ‘emir’ Ashgar and two top rank ISI officials at Rawalpindi on August 20. The intelligence officials had confirmed to TOI that JeM had been making desperate attempts to carry out a big strike as the outfit has been furious and rattled with the intensified action against its terrorists in the Valley.
Earlier today, India summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission and lodged a strong protest over JeM’s attempts to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of local elections there.
In a statement, the ministry of external affairs said India is “firmly and resolutely” committed to take all necessary measures to safeguard its national security in the fight against terrorism.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting with top security brass in the wake of the Nagrota encounter, and asserted that security forces have thwarted their efforts to wreak “major havoc and destruction”.
Neutralising of 4 terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed and the presence o… https://t.co/I29o77GxSU
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1605866869000
Our security forces have once again displayed utmost bravery and professionalism. Thanks to their alertness, they h… https://t.co/dSDW3SvuY4
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1605866927000
After the meeting, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Neutralising of 4 terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed and the presence of large cache of weapons and explosives with them indicate that their efforts to wreak major havoc and destruction have once again been thwarted.”
(With inputs from agencies)