A detailed investigation into the November 19 Nagrota encounter, in which four terrorists were gunned down, revealed the involvement of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operational commander Kasim Jan, the principal accused in the 2016 Pathankot airbase attack, senior Indian officials said on Saturday.
Jan is one of the main launch commanders of Jaish terrorists pushed into India and has links with underground workers all over south Kashmir. He reports directly to Mufti Rauf Asghar, the de facto chief of the UN-designated global terrorist group.
According to Indian counterterrorism officials, with the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and resurgence of the Taliban, its ideological sibling Jaish has become hyperactive across the Jammu and Kashmir border with no less than 14 specially trained terrorists waiting at Gujaranwala to infiltrate into India.
“Nearly 200 terrorists of mixed tanzeems are waiting at launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate into India. We are picking up on the revival of the Al Badr group as well as the creation of another terror front Lashkar-e-Mustafa, headed by one Hidyatullah Malik, and the other Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group training another 23 terrorists at Jangal-Mangal camp in Khyber-Paktunkhwa,” said another security official.
Data extracted out of global positioning sets, wireless handheld sets and receivers from the bodies revealed that the four Jaish attackers were trained in commando warfare as they walked nearly 30km from the JeM camp at Shakargah to the Samba border and then to the pick-up point at Jatwal, which is six kilometres from Samba to Kathua. The attackers walked through moonless nights to the pick-up point and then moved towards Jammu and Kashmir.
“The approximate pick-up point is 8.7km aerial distance from the international border and the JeM Shakargarh camp is 30km from Jatwal. The probable infiltration route was through Mawa village in Samba sector, which is between Ramgarh and Hiranagar sector. There are various kaccha tracks near Nonath nalla, which reaches up to the international border from the pick-up point. The nalla merges into the Bein nalla near the Pakistani village of Chak Jaimal. It is estimated that the terrorists walked the total distance in 2.5 to 3 hours depending on the various routes,” said a senior official.
There is evidence to indicate that they boarded a truck (JK01AL 1055) between 2.30am and 3am and were seen crossing the Sarore toll plaza towards Jammu at 3.44am. The truck then moved towards Kashmir using the Narwal bypass route with the security forces intercepting it around 4.45am at the Ban toll plaza.
According to senior security officials, the slain terrorists were suicide attackers. Besides assault rifles, rocket launchers and pistols, the four were also carrying 6.5 kilograms of nitrocellulose mixed with fuel oil, an explosive used in shaped charges.
While JeM commander Rauf Asghar monitored the attack from Bhawalpur with Qari Zarar, the launcher was Kasim Jan, who handles all the Jaish infiltration into south Kashmir. The LeT uses the north Kashmir route between Uri and Kupwara sector.
“With Rauf Asghar reported to be recruiting terrorists in Peshawar, the Pakistani deep state has decided to raise the violence levels after the deep freeze in the Valley gets over by January-end 2021,” said a Kashmir watcher.