A day after five CRPF personnel were killed in an attack in South Kashmir’s Anantnag — the first major attack since the Pulwama suicide bomber attack in February — officials said the AK-47 toting, ‘hardened’ militant was not a local and was trained in Pakistan.
The official said the fidayeen (on a suicide mission) acted alone, killing five personnel in the initial burst of fire.
CRPF Director General R.R. Bhatnagar briefed Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba about the attack on Thursday. The busy Khanbal-Pahalgam road, where the attack took place is the main approach road to the Amarnath shrine. The Amarnath Yatra commences July 1, more than two lakh pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine.
In wake of the attack, the security arrangements for the Yatra were also reviewed. Around 30,000 security personnel are to be deployed for security during the Yatra.
Narrating the sequence of events, an official said the militant walked towards a police vehicle when a CRPF team was withdrawing from duty and opened fire at them from close range.
A militant outfit, the Al-Umar Mujahideen, that used to be active in the 90s, has claimed responsibility for the attack. An official claimed the attack was coordinated from Pakistan and it was a ploy to rake up the names of obscure outfits to maintain deniability in international arenas.
“The CRPF men were bunched together as they were trying to get into the vehicle and were killed in the initial burst of fire. The encounter lasted for around seven minutes. The militant also lobbed grenades and emptied the entire AK-47 magazine, firing at the security personnel from 15-20 metres. He came to die,” said an official.
The official said they trawled social media for videos of the attack and based on it, came to the conclusion that the militant acted alone. Investigations were on to detect how he reached the site of the attack.
The CRPF personnel killed in the attack were identified as ASI Ramesh Kumar from Jhajjar in Haryana, ASI Nirod Sharma from Nalbari in Assam, Constables Satendra Kumar, Mahesh Kumar Kushwaha from Muzaffarnagar and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh respectively and Constable Sandeep Yadav from Dewas in Madhya Pradesh. The condition of other three personnel — Head Constable Rajender Ingle, Constables Premchand Kaushik and Kedarnath Ojha — injured in the attack, was said to be stable.
“The militants must have done a reconnaissance of the entire area, they knew the exact time of withdrawal of duty,” the official said. Another official said the CRPF were “sitting ducks.”
The CRPF had earlier requested the Jammu and Kashmir Police to not expose them in crowded areas by putting them on law and order duties. “We had requested that CRPF should be stationed at police stations and should be requisitioned only when required. This is a crowded marketplace, it also put the locals in danger,” said the official.( The Hindu)