Sunday, August 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Mastermind of Parliament attack Gazi Baba killed
TNS and Agencies

Srinagar, August 30
In a major success, the security forces today killed the mastermind behind Parliament attack and Jaish-e-Mohammad’s operational chief in Kashmir, Gazi Baba, and his four associates in a 10-hour-long encounter losing one of its personnel in the Noorbagh area of the city.

Eight (nine, according to UNI) BSF personnel, including a Commandant and two Assistant Commandants, and a civilian were injured in the encounter which broke out in the wee hours when the security personnel raided a house on a tip-off from an arrested JeM militant that Baba, a Pakistani national hailing from Bahawalpur, may come there.

Deputy Inspector General of BSF, K Srinivasan, said two bodies of militants and one of a BSF personnel (two, says UNI) were recovered from the house which was partially damaged in the exchange of fire.

One of the bodies was identified as that of Gazi Baba also wanted in connection with the attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, hijacking of Indian Airlines flight in 1999 and a number of attacks on security force camps. He was a close associate of Pakistan based JeM chief Masood Azhar who was released by India, along with two militants, for ending the hijacking of Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar.

The other killed militant was identified as Rashid Bhai, also a Pakistani national. The killed BSF personnel was identified as constable Balbir Singh.

Mr Chandran said at the hospital, where he is recuperating from splinter injuries and fractured spine, that the BSF had raided the house in the Noorbagh area following specific information about Gazi Baba’s hideout carefully built behind a dressing table.

Following several failed attempts in the past few days to trace Gazi Baba, the BSF had cultivated a local source who gave the details of the hideout built behind the dressing table, he said.

“As soon as the door to the hideout opened up after I turned the mirror of the table, the militants hurled a grenade at us which landed under my feet. I kicked it back before it could explode and we lay on the ground. Three grenades followed and I received splinter injuries in my legs. Dubey and Trivedi were also injured,” Mr Chandran said.

“As the militants sprayed bullets towards us, we fled towards the roof-top to take positions but the hostile fire followed us. I decided to jump from the rearside of the house to safety and could see the other two officers do the same from the front side,” he said.

The other two officers were shifted to Army base camp in Badami Bagh cantonment, where they were stated to be out of danger.

Following the tip-off about the presence of Gazi Baba, the BSF personnel surrounded the house around 3.30 A.M. and raided it, official sources said.

The hiding militants fired at them injuring five personnel, including the Officiating Commandant N N D Dubey.

Reinforcements were rushed to the spot and owner of the house Mohammad Shafi Dar, who was also injured in the cross firing, was rescued along with his family — two women and four children.

A fierce encounter then took place in which the house was partially damaged when explosives carried by militants went off during the exchange of fire.

Dar told investigators that there were only two militants in the house.

BSF IG Vijay Raman had earlier told reporters that four militants were killed in the encounter and another was present in the house.

The injured BSF personnel include Assistant Commandants Beenu Chandran and A P Trivedi.

BSF Additional Director General A.K. Mitra said in New Delhi that one of the terrorists killed in the encounter had been identified as Gazi Baba alias Shahbaz Khan.

“He has been identified by one of the jailed JeM militants who knew him,” a BSF spokesman here said.

Besides, there were other inputs also to suggest that the slain terrorist was Gazi Baba, he said.

BSF Inspector General R S Tiwari said two bodies — Gazi Baba’s and JeM commander Rashid Bhai’s — had been recovered.

He said two bags full of explosives — RDX and grenades — were lying inside the house and hence the BSF personnel were taking time in clearing the debris and recovering the bodies. “The bodies of Gazi Baba and Rashid Bhai were actually thrown out of the house by the impact of the explosion triggered by BSF,” Mr Tiwari said.

“We thought this is the best opportunity to catch the man (Gazi Baba)even if we have to kill him. The house was blasted as we didn’t want to let him escape,” a BSF official said.

The house was finally blown up by the BSF.

Mr Mitra said 35-year-old Gazi Baba, the senior most operational commander of JeM in Jammu and Kashmir, was a Pakistani national belonging to Chirchil Patni in Bhawalpur. He was 5 feet 8 inch tall.

The strongly built Gazi Baba was an expert in explosives and could drive any vehicles and even fly helicopters. He moved around packing 10-15 grenades on his body, said BSF officials familiar with his style of operation.

He was the chief planner of Masood Azhar for carrying out terrorist operations in India. Gazi Baba was married in Srinagar. Shopian, Anantnag, Pehalgam and Srinagar were the main area of operations for him. In the entire state, he was believed to have created hundreds of bases and hideouts for himself and JeM’s network.

After training in Afghanistan in the early 1980s, Gazi Baba returned to Pakistan and became the left hand of Maulana Masood Azhar.

After Azhar was arrested by Indian security officials in 1994, Gazi Baba was given responsibility to ensure his release from the Indian jails.

He kidnapped two British tourists from the Kashmir valley later in the year and demanded the release of Azhar Masood. However, he had to release them under pressure from the international community.

He subsequently kidnapped five European tourists and when his demands were not met, he killed all of them.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |