Jammu, (IANS): For the first time after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, Indian security forces on Wednesday captured a Pakistani terrorist shortly after militants killed two BSF troopers in Jammu and Kashmir.
Police officials said the young terrorist, identified as Usman alias Qasim Khan, hailed from Gujranwala in Pakistan and was linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group which carried out the horrific 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
As he was brought down from a mountainous village bound by ropes, the terrorist, believed to be not over 18-years old, looked hassled. He wore a black shirt and trouser.
A short while later, security personnel hooded his face. The dramatic development took place after two militants, reportedly from Pakistan, ambushed a Border Security Force convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Udhampur district, killing two troopers and injuring 11. This happened around 7.30 a.m. at Narsu Nallah, 65 km from Jammu.
One of the militants was shot dead by the BSF personnel who were on their way to the Kashmir Valley. The second attacker fled from the spot, towards Chirdi village in the hills, pursued by security forces.
In the small village, the armed man first took hostage three civilians and forced them to give him food, witnesses later told journalists. He also kept asking about the fate of his colleague. According to one account, when a group of villagers nabbed him, he began to plead: “Mujhe mat pakdo, mujhe mat pakdo.” (Don’t catch me, don’t catch me.)
The subsequent developments were not clear until officials announced that the terrorist had been taken into custody. The hostages were freed.
A BSF officer said he was being interrogated by the Jammu and Kashmir Police. It was the first attack on that stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar highway after 15 long years. The BSF vehicle was peppered with bullets but the men fought back, the officer said.
In New Delhi, a home ministry official confirmed one terrorist had been killed and another captured but said nothing about their nationality.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to BSF chief D.K. Pathak. A senior police officer told IANS: “The lone militant who had taken three villagers hostage after entering a house in Chirdi village has been arrested and the hostages have been freed.”
The officer said search operation in the area were on to know if there were more militants. The attack took place on the 300-km highway that links Jammu region with the Kashmir Valley and is practically a lifeline for Srinagar.
The last attack on this stretch of the highway took place in 2000 when a bridge guarded by the BSF in Ramban district was targeted. No casualty or damage occurred then.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said the Wednesday attack was a “worrying development because (the) area was militant free” for a long time.
His father and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah urged New Delhi to call off the proposed talks between the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan.
He said the militants had come from Pakistan and it was not advisable to go for talks with Islamabad at such a juncture.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said the attack was “extremely worrying” because it followed the July 27 terrorist attack at a town in Gurdaspur district in Punjab that left seven people dead. Gurdaspur borders Pakistan, and those attackers too were believed to be Pakistanis.