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After Sidhra encounter, spotlight back on demand to install vehicle scanners on highways

JAMMU: With yet another incident of terrorists trying to sneak into Kashmir by hiding in a truck, security experts have batted strongly for the installation of vehicle scanners along the highways.

Four heavily-armed terrorists, travelling in a truck to Kashmir after infiltrating from Pakistan, were killed in a “chance encounter” with security forces here early Wednesday morning, a police officer said.

The gunfight took place around 7.30 am amid dense fog near Tawi Bridge in the Sidhra bypass area along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway

It is a “major challenge” for security forces which have foiled over a dozen such bids on national highways in Jammu and Kashmir by eliminating several terrorists and recovering large quantities of weapons and explosive material during the past few years.

“There is a long pending demand of security forces to install full body vehicle scanners along the highway,” security expert and retired army officer Brig Anil Gupta told PTI.

He said that in the absence of such scanners, one cannot check each and every truck.

Brig Gupta, who served at the Nagrota-based 16 Corps headquarters, said the “loophole is being exploited” by terrorists and their supporters.

“I think the only solution to this is to have full body scanners installed at various locations along highways with checking made mandatory for vehicles,” he said.

Police had on November 10 busted a terror module of Jaish-e-Mohammad and arrested three operatives from the Narwal area, recovering arms and ammunition including three AK-56 rifles, one pistol, nine magazines and six grenades from a Kashmir-bound truck.

On April 22, police arrested two persons including the driver of a truck who had ferried terrorists in a truck from the International Border of village Supwal in Samba district to Sunjuwan where they carried out a terror attack in which two terrorists and one CISF officer were killed and four security personnel were injured.

Four suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, who were hiding in a truck, were killed on November 17, 2020 in an encounter with security forces on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway near Nagrota in the outskirts of Jammu city.

Three Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants were killed on January 31, 2020 in a gunbattle that broke out after a group of terrorists, travelling in a truck, opened fire at a police team at a toll plaza on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on the outskirts of Jammu city.

Former director general of police S P Vaid pointed out that a whole network is involved in such activities and poses a major challenge for security agencies.

“It is a very big security challenge for the forces. They (terrorists) are always desperate to cross the border and do some big terror act. It is a full ring to get them across the border and then pick them up in trucks and take them to destinations,” Vaid told PTI.

He said that dozens of such incidents in which terrorists were ferried in trucks have taken place in the last couple of years.

“It is their plan to cross the border in Kathua, Samba and Hiranagar during foggy weather and they are picked up by some people (truckers). It is difficult to cross the border during snow in winter in Kashmir”, he said.

He also batted strongly for putting scanners to check vehicles.

Speaking in the same vein, former director general of police and former intelligence chief Kuldeep Khoda said that this is not the first time trucks have been used to carry out terror attacks and ferry terrorists to the Valley.

“They can upgrade it (security setup and body scanners). Militants come through tunnels also. They get bypassed through air and underground (on the borders)”, Khoda said.

“You cannot think of such intelligence in which every such movement can be known in advance. It is not possible to get information about all the movements. Some of the movements can go unnoticed,” the former DGP said, adding that upgrading technology will help the forces.


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