Investigations so far into the terrorist attack at an Army camp at Sunjuwan in Jammu and the bid to storm a CRPF camp at Karan Nagar in Srinagar a day later announce that the two attacks were synchronised as component of a joint strategy by Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashker-e-Toiba to hit security forces simultaneously in the two regions.
“It is rare for two fidayeen attacks on security camps to be staged simultaneously. The purpose of a fidayeen attack, which is usually made to stretch over 2-3 days as terrorists engage counter-forces with all the ammunition at their disposal, is to grab undivided media attention.
However, there was a departure this time with the Sunjuwan attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists followed by LeT’s Karan Nagar strike just a day later,” a senior J&K police officer told TOI. The agencies say Jaish and LeT commanders operating in south Kashmir areas like Tral and Pulwama decided to join hands and stage a fidayeen attack in Jammu region and immediately follow it up with another suicide strike at a CRPF camp in Srinagar.
While the Jammu mission was assigned to Jaish, LeT was chosen to execute the Srinagar strike. “The near-simultaneous strikes in Jammu and Kashmir regions were probably to divide the attention of the agencies and counter-forces,” said a senior officer of J&K police. All the five terrorists involved in the two strikes – 3 in Jammu and 2 in Srinagar – were Pakistanis.
While the Jaish trio has been identified as Qari Mushtaq alias Chhotu, Mohammed Adil alias Irfan and Mohammed Khalid alias Rashid, identity of the two LeT men who tried to unsuccessfully enter the CRPF camp in Srinagar is yet to be established. “But both the LeT terrorists were Pakistanis,” said an officer.
Confirming the new Jaish-LeT collaboration in J&K, an official said: “Jaish and LeT, until now working independently and also seen as rivals, have of late appear together and are coordinating operations within J&K. This is reminiscent of the LeT-Hizbul Mujahideen arrangement that has seen the Pakistan-based outfit rely on local Hizbul cadres and overground workers for logistical help,” said the officer.
An intelligence officer pointed out that with both Jaish and Lashker taking a hit last year due to intensified intelligence-based operations by the J&K police and CRPF, their Pakistan-based leadership may have been instructed by ISI to join hands. “Even if they are seen as rivals, both outfits report to the same master. So if the master wants then to come together, they surely will,” said the officer. Sources said there was prior intelligence about a meeting between Jaish and LeT commanders in Tral early this month.
According to the input, the two outfits decided to stage an attack in Srinagar targeted at the security forces. The three Jaish terrorists had infiltrated from Pakistan in July-August last year and were since operating in Pulwama area of south Kashmir. They travelled to Jammu the night before the attack and were in touch with handlers in Pakistan as well as local contacts. “Things were being coordinated from Pakistan as well as from within Kashmir,” said a J&K police officer.