A massive cordon and search operation to track down three suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, who fired at security personnel on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, entered the second day on Thursday in Jhajjar Kotli forest belts.
A villager told security forces that the three militants entered his house Wednesday night and demanded clothes and food before fleeing.
Panic gripped Jammu and its neighbouring areas after the three terrorists escaped into a forest between Jhajar Kotli and Nagrota on the outskirts of the city. “The cordon and search operation is going on for the second consecutive day today. Army, CRPF, police and other security agencies are combing the area to track down the terrorists”, a senior police officer said.
The entire Jammu-Srinagar Highway has been put on alert with additional checkpoints set up , he said. “Jhajjar Kotli forests and adjoining areas have been put under massive cordon”, he said. “We came to know that terrorists entered the house of a local. We are verifying the details”, the officer said.
A villager from the area told security forces that around 8 PM the three armed militants carrying haversacks and three rifles entered his house, changed clothes, took biscuits and water and left. “They came to the house at 8 PM. They demanded clothes for changing their (combat) dress. They demanded food. They changed dress, ate biscuits and drank water and left around 9 pm”, the villager told reporters.
The terrorists asked the family to arrange a vehicle for their journey to Kashmir Valley and also asked them to switch off their phones. “Militants were pressing us to provide them a vehicle. We told them we do not have a vehicle. They (terrorists) told us they will pay for arranging the vehicle for Kashmir,” he said. As soon as the terrorists left, the family informed police.
Traffic on the highway between Nagrota-Jhajjar Kotli has been suspended after the terrorists infiltrated. Schools in the area have also been closed for the day. Police personnel, posted at a check post on the highway around 0800 hours Wednesday morning, signalled a truck to stop, but it sped away, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Jammu, Vivek Gupta, had said.
The truck was intercepted by a police team after a chase and the militants fired on them from the vehicle before fleeing, he said. However, the driver and the conductor of the truck were taken into custody, the SSP said. Gupta said an AK assault rifle and three magazines were seized from the truck during a search.