Jammu and Kashmir police claimed to have arrested two militants and as many Over Ground Workers (OGWs) who conspired and helped Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) self-styled commander Naveed Jatt, a resident of Pakistan, to flee from a hospital in
Srinagar on January 6 after killing two policemen.
Since the entire leadership of LeT was wiped out by the security forces in recent months in the Kashmir Valley, Naveed’s escape was organised to help revival of the leaderless militant outfit, Additional Director General of Police Muneer Ahmad Khan told a news conference here on Thursday afternoon, adding the motorcycle and a car used in the escape of Naveed have been seized.
However, he said, ‘’it was a matter of some minutes we missed Naveed in a house in Kakpora area of Pulwama district on the same night. Naveed and another militant Tika Khan are still at large, he said, adding ‘’we are after them and will soon neutralize them.’’
When asked if anyone from Central Jail, Srinagar, was also involved in the conspiracy, Mr Khan said the investigation was under progress and sharing any more information at this stage will not be right.
Naveed was shifted from Kathua to Srinagar central jail on court orders, the ADGP said in reply to a question.Giving details about the Naveed’s escape and subsequent developments, Mr Khan said, ‘’immediately after the incident in which we lost two policemen, a Special Investigation Team was constituted headed by Superintendent of Police to investigate all aspects of this escape, first in recent times.’’
The SIT started investigation immediately and on the clue of some scientific evidence, militants and OGWs involved in the incident were identified, the ADGP said.
He said SIT conducted night-long raids in general areas of Kakpora in Pulwama during which two militants Shakeel Ahmad Bhat and Tika Khan were arrested. Two OGWs Syed Tajamul and Mohammad Shafi Wani were also arrested, he said. We raided a hideout at Kakpora but Naveed and Hilal had left the place minutes earlier, he said.
Hopefully after smashing their whole net work, we will be able to neutralize them, Mr Khan said, adding the arrested militants and OGWs during the questioning made certain admission that conspiracy actually started around four months back.
They had planned to get Naveed free from Pulwama but failed because of tight security arrangements. Therefore, he said, they later hatched a conspiracy to get him free from Srinagar hospital.
Tika Khan and Hilal used to visit central jail frequently and they were in constant touch through mobile phone, he said adding on the day of incident, February 6, Tika Khan and Hilal came to Srinagar and took position outside the hospital.
He said when the detenue was brought to hospital, Hilal fired on constables who later succumbed. After the firing, Naveed, Hilal ran towards the parking place and ride a motorcycle. Shakeel was driving while Naveed was in the middle while Hilal was sitting in the last.
After crossing Abdullah bridge they stayed there and later in the evening Tika Khan took them to their home. However, Naveed and Hilal left the house minutes before we raided, he added.
The criminal conspiracy was hatched by them with other fellows, he said but said it was not proper to divulge any more details at this stage since investigation was still in progress. We are still investigating the involvement of other persons in the incident.
Lauding the SIT, he said the incident took place on February 6 and we cracked it only yesterday. SIT did their job in excellent manner, he added.
In reply to a question, he said since there was very rush of people, including patients, retaliation by security forces could have resulted in civilian casualities. We avoided retaliation since we are professional, he said adding we are not terrorists and did not believe in killing civilians. They (militants) kill innocent policemen and they would have killed other civilians as it hardly matter to them who is killed.
When asked why the LeT was desperate to free Naveed, the outfit was without any leadership after the killing of their top militants, including Ismail, Dujana and Qasim. There was nobody to lead the outfit so they were desperate to free Naveed.
About the allegation that police escort was not fully armed, the ADGP said the reports are totally baseless. They had carbine which is more powerful weapon in a close range target, he said, adding SOP was followed properly.
To another question why foreign militants were lodged in central jail, Srinagar, he said in December last year we shifted nine Pak militants from Srinagar to Jammu province. “We were in the process of shifting Naveed and another foreign militants, but could not do so because of stay from the court,” Mr Khan added.