Barely days after the murder of three civilians in old town Baramulla, police on Wednesday claimed to have been successful in arresting the militants involved in this gruesome murder that shook the conscience of all across the state.
On the evening of 30th April at about 8:35 pm, few unknown armed personnel made their appearance at Iqbal Market old town Baramulla and brutally assassinated three civilians on the roadside who were later identified as Haseeb Nabi Khan, son of Gh. Nabi Khan, resident of Kakar Hamam Baramulla, Irfan Ahmad Sheikh alias Asif Ahmad Sheikh, son of Ali Mohd Sheikh resident of Syed Kareem Baramulla and Mohd Asgar Sheikh alias Afsar Khan, son of Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh, resident of Kakar Hamam Baramulla.
Onlookers who witnessed the crime revealed that three to four militants appeared at the scene and fired several rounds on a group of youngsters and later disappeared towards Drangbal-Hajibal forest area after committing the brutal murder.
Baramulla police swiftly acted on the initial tips provided by the locals and several teams were tasked to carry out the searches in the forest area of Drangbal-Hajibal for nabbing the culprits.
The entire area from Forests of Hajibal to Drangbal stone quarries including Kirmani Colony Drangbal were put under constant watch.
One of the teams deputed on a watch-out observed some suspicious movement inside the forest area and soon search parties were sent in to clear the air.
When the search party started closing in around the suspicious area, militants hiding inside fired upon the search party. However the search party in their measured response tactfully overpowered one militant who received minor injuries in this incident.
The injured militant was immediately given medical treatment and the hideout in which four militants had been hiding was busted and some arms and ammunition were also recovered.
Another militant Bilal Ahmad Najar alias Sameer, son of Gh. Ahmad Najar, resident of Banglow Bagh Baramulla was nabbed after joint team of Police, Army and CRPF overpowered him near cremation ground earmarked for Sikh Community in the vicinity of Banglow Bagh.
After questioning the arrested militants, the involvement of outlawed militant organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba was established in this heinous crime involving murder of three innocent civilians on the evening of April 30th.
During investigation, it has surfaced that militants involved in the killings include Suhaib Farooq Akhoon alias Abu Huraira son of Farooq Ahmad Akhoon resident of Khanpora, Mohsin Mushtaq Bhat alias Shera son of Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat resident of Qazi Hamam Baramulla, Ajaz Ahmad Gojri alias Abu Umair son of Ab. Rehman resident of Jami Mohalla Baramulla (apprehended) and Bilal Ahmad Najar alias Abu Sameer son of Ghulam Ahmad Najar resident of Banglow Bagh Baramulla (apprehended).
Moreover investigations in this case also reveal that one spotter Bilal Ahmad Najar son of Gh. Ahmad Najar resident of Banglow Bagh Baramulla has actually tracked and spotted the movement of these three deceased young boys. He had been assigned the task of identifying and spotting the victims.
Three militants Suhaib Akhoon, Mohsin Mushtaq and Ajaz Gojiri opened fire using AK series rifles while as Bilal Najar used a Chinese pistol to commit the murder of three civilians.
Since all the militants involved in this crime are locals of Baramulla, they were easily spotted by eyewitnesses, who immediately reported to Police.
Earlier a Pakistani who was suspected to be involved in these murders as per the initial eyewitness accounts turned out to be Aijaz Gojri who had changed his appearance to create the impression of being a Pakistani.
Of the 4 weapons used in the offence, 3 have been recovered and the empty cartridges seized from the scene of crime appear to have same markings as discovered on the live cartridges recovered from the apprehended militants and their hideout.
After committing the crime, all the 4 militants had fled from the spot in a sliver Alto Car bearing registration number JK01J-0010 provided to them by one Uzair Amin Bhat son of Mohd Amin Bhat resident of Chesti Colony Baramulla who has been also arrested along with the vehicle in the instant case.
Of the three civilians killed, names of two had surfaced in threatening video issued by LeT from old town Baramulla during the 2016 unrest.
Sustained questioning of these arrested militants helped Police to unearth a LeT module operating in Sopore-Baramulla belt.
With this, 4 active militants of the LeT militant organisation have been apprehended alongwith 06 other Over Ground Workers (OGWs).
Pertinently multiple raids by Police, Army and CRPF in Sopore and Baramulla areas were launched to bust the militant modules. One kingpin of the module namely Nadeem Ahmad Dar alias Abu Osama resident of Nowpora Kalan Sopore alongwith Suhaib Akhoon had been the main motivators and commanders of this group.
Nadeem alias Abu Osama had provided all assistance to these terrorists in committing this crime including supply of arms to the militants.
He had also transported them to Baramulla from Sopore in white Santro Car on April 25th.
The said vehicle has also been seized. He is said to be in direct contact with a Pakistani militant of LeT Hanzulla Adnan based in Pakistan.
With such arrests, Police and Security forces were also able to solve the cases of 2 grenade attacks on Police Station Baramulla by apprehending one Naseer Ahmad Mochi resident of Amargrah Sopore, who was provided with grenades on two occasions by apprehended militant Ajaz Ahmad Gojri and he had subsequently lobed them on Police Station Baramulla on 2.12.2017 and 22.01.2018 in which two policemen had sustained injuries.
The recoveries made from the apprehended militants and OGWs include, two AK Rifles, two Pistil Chinese, four hand grenades, 50 rounds of AK ammunition, four AK Magazine and two Pistol Magzines.
Moreover, interrogation of these militants revealed that LeT militant handlers in Pakistan had given clear instructions to them to create atmosphere of ‘terror’ in North Kashmir Range by eliminating as many civilians as possible who are perceived to be friendly with government or security forces.
This also explains the killings that had taken place in other parts of North Kashmir including Hajin and Sopore done by Lashkar-e-Toiba militants.
The three militants involved in this crime had joined militant ranks in October-November 2017 while as the fourth one Bilal Najar alias Abu Sameer had joined the ranks soon after murdering three boys on April 30th.
The group along with other militants in Sopore-Handwara belt is commanded by one Pakistani militant operating by code name Abu-Maaz.
Other known militants of this group Suhaib Akhoon had visited Pakistan in July last year on a valid Passport and visa from Pakistan High Commission and had been trained to handle arms at a LeT camp based in Faisalabad Pakistan.
After returning back via Wagah border he formally joined the LeT ranks.