Two policemen were killed at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Singh Hospital Tuesday after militants opened fire on a police team accompanying detainees from Srinagar’s Central Jail to the hospital for a medical check up, police said. A top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant commander Naveed Jat alias Abu Hanzulla escaped from police custody during the attack. Director General, Jammu and Kashmir Police, SP Vaid told The Indian Express: “At least two or three militants were involved in the incident. We are maintaining high alert and we will go after them till we neutralise them.” The police officers killed were identified as Head Constable Mushtaq Ahmad from Kupwara in North Kashmir and Constable Babar Ahmad from Anantnag in the South. Jat, a resident of Chak No 421, district Vehari in Pakistan’s Multan was arrested in Kulgam in 2014 and was then LeT’s district commander and a close associate of Abu Qasim and Abu Dujana – both LeT Kashmir chiefs – who were subsequently killed by security forces.
According to witnesses at the hospital Tuesday, the police party was fired upon from inside the hospital as they approached the door of OPD Block A at around 11 am. “I heard gunshots and we ducked for cover but we saw several people running towards the main gate, the militants could have blended with the crowd as they ran out,” said Zafarullah, the parking attendant outside the OPD block. CCTV footage of the incident shows at least two phiran-clad men running towards the hospital gate. Witnesses told The Indian Express that they heard at least four gunshots before panicked crowds ran towards the hospital’s main gate.
According to police records, Jat had joined LeT in 2011 and had infiltrated the Valley in October 2012. Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) South Kashmir S P Pani told The Indian Express that Jat “was involved in three murder cases in 2013 in Pulwama and was facing trial in a number of cases across Kashmir”. Jat’s escape, police sources said, will motivate the LeT, which has faced a rout after its commander Abu Ismail was killed in an encounter last year.