Thursday, December 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Red Fort attackers’ accomplice shot 
Al-Burq militant surrenders
TNS and agencies

SRINAGAR, Dec 27 — A self-styled district commander of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba, who was in close touch with the militants who stormed the Red Fort on December 22, was killed in an encounter at Tengpora Batmaloo bypass here today.

At least four soldiers were killed and as many injured in a militant attack in Kupwara district while elsewhere in the valley, one person was killed and 11 injured, an official spokesman said.

The spokesman said the police, on specific information, raided a number of hideouts in Srinagar during the night and carried out ambushes. One of the raiding parties was fired at by militants at the Tengpora Batmaloo bypass in the wee hours today. Abu Sufian, alias Abdul Rehman, a Pakistani citizen and a Lashkar militant, was killed in the encounter, he added. However, eyewitnesses alleged that a youth was brought in a Gypsy and shot dead by the security forces.

The spokesman said the accomplices of Sufian escaped to and one AK series rifle, three magazines, one wireless set and some rounds were seized.

The recovered documents and investigations established that Sufian was in close touch with the Lashkar militants who stormed the Red Fort in Delhi.

The raids by the police in different parts of the city also led to the arrest of three persons, who were providing hideouts and financial backing to the Lashkar militants.

It had also been established that lakhs of rupees were transferred to the Lashkar through one of the bank accounts of the arrested persons. The identities of those arrested would be withheld till the investigations were complete, the spokesman added.

In other militancy-related incidents, unidentified militants shot dead Nazir Ahmad Bhat, a peon in the office of Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, at Hakoora in south Kashmir on Wednesday. This afternoon, unidentified militants hurled a hand grenade in the busy shopping centre at Hari Singh High Street, injuring one jawan and 10 civilians.

At Puthshahi Lolab in north Kashmir, militants attacked a patrol party from a hilltop with automatic weapons yesterday.

Three soldiers died on the spot and five were wounded critically. The injured were hospitalised, but one of them died.

A defence spokesman said since the militants were on a hilltop, they escaped before the troops of 32, Rashtriya Rifles, could retaliate.

Subsequent search of the entire forest area did not yield any result.

Another militant, associated with pro-Pakistan Al-Burq outfit, surrendered before the security forces in north Kashmir, raising the number of ultras joining the national mainstream within a fortnight in Jammu and Kashmir to 10.

The Al-Burq militant, whose name was withheld for security gave himself up before the Army in the Lolab area of Kupwara district.

Meanwhile the police fired in the air and burst dozens of tear-gas shells to disperse stone pelting mob that was protesting against the alleged violation of ceasefire and arrest of a girl by the police at Rambagh on Srinagar-airport road this afternoon.

The protesters alleged that the Jammu and Kashmir police special operation group raided a house at Rambagh and arrested Raquia and her daughter late last night. The two were later set free at Rajbagh and then another house at Rambagh was raided and another girl, Ruby, was arrested, they said.

The raids were against the spirit of the unilateral ceasefire, presently in force in the state, the demonstrators said. They also alleged that the ceasefire was called just to mislead the world and the atrocities against the people in the valley continued.

The police fired in the air a number of times and also burst dozens of tear-gas shells to disperse the stone pelting mob which had also blocked the Srinagar-airport road at Rambagh.

Several persons, including some police personnel, were injured in the stone pelting.

The situation was brought under control with the deployment of more paramilitary forces in the area.

JAMMU: The troops on Wednesday foiled an infiltration bid by Pakistan-trained militants in the Poonch sector.


Mumbai next target

MUMBAI, Dec 27 (UNI) — Aerial surveillance has been increased on the western sea front following intelligence reports that this commercial city was the next target of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, defence sources have said.

The sources said that Chetak helicopters of the Coast Guard and Navy as well as the Sea King helicopters are maintaining surveillance in the entire coastal region.

Security at the Mumbai, Nhava Sheva and JNPT ports, Army and Air Force installations has also been beefed up. The military police has been maintaining round-the-clock vigil.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) D. Sivandanan said, “There is general alert in the metropolis”.

Since Friday night, a series of nakabandis have been carried out in Mumbai.

According to officials, platoons of the state reserve police have been deployed at Central Railway and Western Railway headquarters, strategic installations like Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, stock exchanges, Mantralaya and Vidhan Bhavan, airports and railway stations.

Last month, four Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were arrested from their Thane hideout. Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s residence Matoshree, the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, oil majors like Hindustan Petroleum and Bombay High were part of their hitlist, according to sources.

In March 1993, as many as 428 people were killed in the serial bomb blasts, planned by the ISI and executed by Karachi-based don Dawood Ibrahim.


Encounter stage-managed?
Residents gherao police post
From Syed Ali Ahmed

NEW DELHI, Dec 27 — Even as agitated residents of the congested South Delhi locality where a Lashkar militant was killed yesterday staged a demonstration today claiming that the militant shot dead by the police was a resident of Uttar Pradesh and not a Pakistani national the Delhi Police claimed the Army had no role in nabbing the militant involved in the attack on the Red Fort.

The government had instituted a joint probe into the Red Fort incident in which three persons including two jawans of Rajputana Rifles, were killed.

The Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, had also ordered a court of inquiry by the Army apart from the joint investigation.

“The Army had no role in solving the case”, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Ashok Chand.

The Special Cell which specialises in terrorism cases killed an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba militant in an early morning raid on Tuesday.

The acting commissioner of the Delhi Police, Mr R.K. Sharma said, “we raided the hideout of the militant at Batla House, Okhla, on the basis of the intelligence gathered by the Special Cell and the inputs provided by central intelligence agencies”.

The police in its operation killed Abu Shamal and arrested Ashfaq Ahmed and his wife, Rehmana.

The police claim they are members of the Lashkar-e- Toiba outfit which claimed responsibility for the attack on the 17th century fort.

The militant outfit following the police raid stated that the persons who carried out the attack in the Red Fort had left the Capital on Friday night within hours of the incident.

Substantiating his claim, Mr Chand said, “We provided information to the Jammu and Kashmir Police based on the interrogation of the arrested militant which resulted in the killing of Lashkar’s self-styled commander in Srinagar, Abu Sufiyan”.

He said Abu Sufiyan was in close touch with the militants, involved in the Red Fort incident.

Meanwhile, residents of Batla House gheraoed the Okhla police post today, alleging that Abu Shamal was not a Pakistani national. He was from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh. The encounter was stage-managed, they alleged.

The agitators rallied from the police post to Batla House where Abu Shamal was killed. They raised slogans against the Delhi Police. They planned to hold a big demonstration in front of the police post tomorrow following Id prayer.

A few of the residents said Abu Shamal was not killed in an encounter. The police brought the militant from somewhere and went upstairs to his flat. After half an hour police personnel came outside and fired in different directions. It was one-sided firing.

Another resident, Shafiq said he heard some policemen asking somebody where house number G-73 was. He peeped through the door and saw a white police Gypsy and a large number of police personnel.

He said “I was surprised to hear this. The police, which is investigating such a sensational case, had come for an encounter with the militant without having exact knowledge of the hideout”.

Asif Mohammad Khan, municipal councillor of the Okhla area, said Abu Shamal was not a militant. He was from Uttar Pradesh. He was caught from somewhere and brought to his flat where the police killed him in a fake encounter.

He said he heard ACP Rajbir Singh, who led the team of sharp-shooters for the encounter, directing his men not to inform the media as the identity of the killed youth was not yet confirmed”.

However, Mr Ashok Chand discounted the allegations levelled by the area residents. The DCP stated the slain militant belonged to the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

He said, “we are 100 per cent sure that we got the right man on the basis of the tip-off from his associate Ashfaq who is at present in judicial custody”. 

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