Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been placed on red alert over the plans of Pakistan-backed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed to carry out attacks targeting army and paramilitary forces on Monday. Security forces expect the terrorists to carry out the attack using a car bomb or a suicide bomber.
The heightened security in Kashmir coincides with the terror group Hizbul Mujahideen naming Ghazi Haider aka Saifullah Mir as the next chief chief of the terror group in Kashmir to replace Riyaz Naikoo who was killed in an encounter this week. “Ghazi Haider is a nom de guerre. Ghazi means Islamic warrior, Haider is brave,” a security official in Kashmir said, adding that operations to locate the new Hizbul chief would begin soon. The terror outfit has also readied its second line of leadership. Ghazi Haider would have a deputy, Zafar ul Islam, and a chief military adviser Abu Tariq Bhai.
For now, the immediate priority of the security forces is to neutralise the Jaish-e-Mohammed threat to convoys of security forces on May 11. The terrorist group has been planning the possible attacks on Monday for days. Last week, according to intelligence reports, Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar, the de facto chief of Jaish, had met his handlers at Pakistan military’s Inter Services Intelligence.
Security officials said the choice of May 11 for an attack coincides with the 17th day of Ramadan when the Battle of Badr was fought and won by a few hundred soldiers in Saudi Arabia. In Islamic history, it is seen as a huge victory in the early days of Islam and a turning point.
It is also the 22nd anniversary of India’s second round of Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998 when India became a nuclear weapons state with a capability to deliver airborne and land-based nuclear devices.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed, which has a large proportion of foreign terrorists in its ranks, is expected to use local Kashmiris for the bombing as it had done in the Pulwama car bombing last year that targeted a convoy of CRPF troopers.
This lowers the cost of a terrorist attack for Pakistan-based terror groups, a Kashmir police officer said. It is also convenient because it helps its backers in Pakistan claim that the attack was carried out by local Kashmiris and is part of, as Prime Minister Imran Khan calls it, an indigenous resistance movement.
Counter-terror officials in North Block said the Northern Army commander and chiefs of Central Reserve Police Force and Jammu and Kashmir police’s special operations groups had already been sensitised about the possible attack.
As a precaution, all movement of convoys has been placed under strong monitoring and will move out under strong protection with road opening parties in accordance with procedures. This will keep everyone safe, an official said.