The three terrorists had crossed over to Pakistan from the Attari-Wagah border in 2018 for training in arms and explosives

At least three of the five terrorists gunned down by the army’s Special Forces in the April 5 Keran sector encounter belong to Jammu and Kashmir. Investigations into the encounter have revealed the three terrorists had been missing since 2018 when they crossed over to Pakistan for training in arms and explosives.

Five AK-47 rifles, grenades, GPS and wireless sets were recovered from the encounter site at Shalbatoo, Jumgund area of Keran sector, Kupwara in north Kashmir. The group had infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) on April 1 from Qasim-II post in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. They were on their way to the army’s Gulab Post when a squad of the Special Forces went after them.

According to security agencies, the three terrorists have been identified as Sajjad Ahmad Hurrah of Daramdora, Shopian, Aadil Hussain Mir of Mallapora, Liver, Anantnag and Umar Nazir Khan of Liver, Anantnag.

The J&K Police records show that missing reports were filed over the disappearance of Sajjad and Aadil at local police stations.

It was further revealed that the two left for Pakistan separately via the Attari-Wagah border. Sajjid (passport number N 6689233) crossed over on April 12, 2018 and Aadil (passport number P9403541) later on April 27, 2018. Travel history of Umar Nazir, who belonged to the same village as Aadil, is being probed.

According to security agencies, the needle of suspicion for radicalising these youth and recruiting them into terrorism points at Ghulam Nabi Khan, who is currently deputy leader of Hizbul Mujahideen and based in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. Nabi Khan also belongs to Liver Village in Anantnag.

The encounter, and the multiple intelligence reports of Pakistan-based terror groups – Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed — assembling at launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir suggests Islamabad is focused on fomenting trouble in Kashmir, a security official said. For one, by radicalising the Kashmiri youth and then, getting them to cross over for training with jihadist groups like Lashkar-e-Tayebba, Jaish-e-Mohammed or the Hizbul Mujahideen and then infiltrate back to Jammu and Kashmir.

Besides, the Pakistani establishment is also trying to smuggle assault rifles across the LoC in order to supply to foreign and local terrorists already in the Valley. This assessment is also backed by the recent seizure of 13 AK-47 rifles, hand grenades and ammunition in Keran sector, Kupwara on March 23.

Apart from the Pakistani attempts to increase the level of violence in Kashmir in the coming months, Islamabad is also propping up indigenous armed groups like the Resistance Front and JK Pir Panjal Peace Forum to get back at India for nullifying the Article 370 in August 2019.

The renewed attempts at infiltration are an attempt to boost the terrorist strength in Kashmir where 50 terrorists have been neutralised in the last three months.

According to an estimate by the security establishment, there are, however, no less than 242 active terrorists in the Valley. About 100 of them are foreign terrorists belonging to the Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammed.