A threat of a possible terror strike on Amarnath yatra is looming large in the wake of fresh intelligence reports claiming that a plot has been hatched by the LeT and JeM cadre to target the yatra.
Ahead of the annual Amarnath yatra, beginning June 28, a joint team of security forces Friday neutralized four terrorists, including one self-styled Chief of the banned terror outfit Islamic state -Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) in south Kashmir district of Anantnag.
It is for the first time the security forces in the state have tracked down terrorists belonging to the Islamic state and neutralized them before they could strike.
Social media profiling and inputs indicate that they were inspired by ISIS modules,” police said.
Confirming the antecedents of the slain terrorists Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range SP Pani said, “the terrorists killed in Anantnag were associated with the ISJK. These terrroists were IS inspired and had a history of attacking policemen in the state.
He said the location of the encounter site falls in the close vicinity of the yatra route.
A policeman and a civilian were also killed in the operation.
According to Director General of Police, SP Vaid the terrorists were “reportedly affiliated to ISJK”.
According to the police spokesman, the militant killed was identified as Dawood Ahmad Sofi alias Danish (33) from Mustafa Abad, Zainakote, who led the group, that claimed allegiance in the state.
Also known as Dawood Salfi, police said he was a school drop out and worked as a salesman and then as a tour operator before joining armed militancy in 2016.
Earlier in March, another terrorist identified as Eesa Fazili was killed along with two associates. He was also part of the same module, police said.
Police said one civilian, Mohammad Yousuf Rather (53) succumbed to injuries after the encounter, which also left another 13 injured. Ashiq Hussain of the J&K police’s Special Operations Group was also killed in the operation. Mobile internet was suspended in Anantnag and Srinagar to avert law and order trouble.
In another encounter in Tral, at least nine security forces personnel were injured after a grenade was lobbed at forces on security duty. Five CRPF jawans and four J&K Police personnel were injured in the attack.
Three others killed with Sofi have been identified as Mohammad Ashraf Itoo (28), Majeed Ahmad Dar (22) and Adil Rehman Bhat (26).
“Social media profiling and inputs indicate that they were inspired by ISIS modules,” police said. Two of them had B.Tech degrees from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University.
According to police, Dawood Sofi was involved in a number of stone pelting cases in the area prior to joining the terror outfit.
To ensure safety and security of the pilgrims the center too has responded in advance by deploying a team of National Security Guards (NSG) in Srinagar.
According to police, he was initially known to be affiliated with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen terror outfit. Police also claimed to have recovered “incriminating material and a huge quantity of ammunition” from the site of encounter.
Meanwhile, retired IPS officer K Vijay Kumar, appointed as advisor to Governor N N Vohra, Friday reviewed the security situation in the Valley. After assuming office, Kumar met the top police brass including DGP Vaid, the Director General of Prisons, special DG and other officers.
Guarding Amarnath yatra – The biggest challenge
A threat of a possible terror strike on Amarnath yatra is looming large in the wake of fresh intelligence reports claiming a sinister plot has been hatched by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) cadre to target the yatra.
To ensure safety and security of the pilgrims the center too has responded in advance by deploying a team of National Security Guards (NSG) in Srinagar. In addition, para-military forces, state police force, and Army is expected to cover the entire yatra route and provide three-tier security cover to the pilgrims from the entry gate towards last base camp located at Baltal and Pahalgam.
The specially trained Black Cat NSG commandos have been asked to be on standby to deal with any terror or hostage-like situation. They will also be stationed at Srinagar airport to tackle any eventuality.
Additional CCTV cameras, bulletproof bunkers, dog squads and quick reaction teams on the yatra route will also be in place. Satellites are likely to track the movement of pilgrims.
NSG commandos have been equipped with the latest range of weapons.
According to CRPF IG Ravideep Sahi, “There is a higher level of threat perception to Amarnath Yatra this year. There are terror groups working alone as well as terror groups like Lashkar, Hizb, and Jaish working as hybrid terror groups. Security forces are working hard to fend off any such terror attacks”.
In addition to heavy deployment of para-military troops on ground zero, the security forces have been directed to induct state of the art technology to ensure fool-proof security arrangements.
An extensive plan includes the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) stickers for vehicles carrying yatris to aid security forces keep track of movement. Installation of RFID tags in vehicles used by pilgrims will aid in better coordination and use of drones for the surveillance of suspicious activities.
The RFID tags will be installed on vehicles when an individual or tour operator registers to travel to Kashmir for Amarnath Yatra.
At least 10-15 drones will operate through the day to monitor yatris. A 24X7 helpline number 1364 will start two days before the yatra. Additional CCTV cameras, bulletproof bunkers, dog squads and quick reaction teams on the yatra route will also be in place. Satellites are likely to track the movement of pilgrims.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.