Trans-border tunnel detected in Samba sector on Sunday. Sand bags had Karachi markings

The sand bags recovered from the mouth of the tunnel on the Indian side bore markings of Karachi, Pakistan, said officials

The Border Security Force (BSF) on Sunday detected a trans-border tunnel in Samba sector that was used by four Jaish terrorists, who were eliminated at Ban toll plaza near Nagrota on Thursday, said top police officials.

BSF inspector general NS Jamwal said, “The tunnel, which has entered around 160 meters inside Indian territory, has been detected near Regal post in Samba sector on Sunday.”

The IGP further said, “It was used by the four Jaish terrorists, who were eliminated at Ban toll plaza on Thursday morning.”

“The tunnel originated from Chak Bhura post of Pak Rangers and it was strengthened by small wooden planks. It was dug 20 feet deep beneath the ground and has a diameter of three feet,” he informed.

“We have recovered ropes and 10 to 15 sand bags that were used to give support to it (at its mouth), “ said the BSF IG. He added that the sand bags bore markings of Karachi, Pakistan. The BSF detected it around 12.30 pm on Sunday.

Jamwal further said that the tunnel established Pakistan’s involvement beyond any doubt in the Ban toll plaza encounter.

“We are going to lodge a strong protest with the Rangers with all the evidence and pictures,” he added.

A senior intelligence official said that the four terrorists were in constant touch with their handlers in Pakistan via digital mobile radio.

“Kahan pahunche, kya soorat e haal hai. Koi mushkil toh nahi,” these texts were sent to the four terrorists.

The handlers, in Shakargarh area of Punjab’s Narowal district in Pakistan, had asked the terrorists about their whereabouts and if they had reached safely.

The recovered digital mobile radio has been manufactured by a Pakistani company ‘Micro Electronics’ and QMobile smartphone.

“The messages were sent by a handler in Shakargarh,” said the official.

In addition, a wireless set and a GPS device have also been recovered.

The four Jaish terrorists, believed to be Pakistani nationals, had sneaked into India from the Samba sector on Thursday night along with a huge consignment of arms and ammunition, including six AK-56 rifles, five AK-47 rifles, three pistols, 16 AK magazines, a packet of RDX, 20 Chinese hand grenades, six UBGL grenades and 20 kgs of explosive.

Acting on intelligence inputs, security forces intercepted the truck carrying the terrorists around 4.50am at Ban toll plaza near Nagrota in Jammu district. The terrorists were shot dead in the gun battle that followed. Two security officials suffered injuries in the operation. They are said to be stable.

“A few days ago, (Jaish founder Masood Azhar’s brother) Abdul Rauf Asghar aka Rauf Lala was seen across the International Border in Shakargarh area of Narowal district. The area has launch pads (to push terrorists into India),” said one of the officials cited above, requesting anonymity.

Intelligence agencies had warned of a possible infiltration bid and a major terror attack on November 26 (coinciding with the 2008 Mumbai attacks and just before the beginning of the local body elections), this official said. He said that the Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were ready.

The truck that was carrying the terrorists had a fake number plate, according to the officials who have identified the vehicle. It was spotted at 8.31pm on November 1 at Lakhanpur when it crossed over to Punjab. It returned to Lakhanpur with rice grains from Punjab around 10.33 am on November 9, they added.

The truck was not seen on the highway from November 10 to November 18. On November 19, it was seen at Sarore toll plaza in Samba district on the Pathankot-Jammu highway at 3.43am, where it paid toll tax, the officials said. It reached the Ban toll plaza, the site of the encounter, around 4:45 am via Bajalta Chowk on Sidhra by-pass of Jammu district, according to the investigators.

According to investigators, the terrorists were asked to surrender but they fired at the forces and threw grenades at them. The truck, loaded with rice sacks, caught fire during the encounter. As guns fell silent, the bodies of the terrorists were recovered from inside the truck. Officials said that medicines with Pakistani markings found on the terrorists proved they infiltrated from across the border.

“Once into the Indian territory, it is not a big deal for these terrorists, trained in guerrilla warfare, to cover the distance from the international border to Jammu-Pathankot highway and the possibility of sleeper cells on Indian side helping them is also not ruled out,” this official added.