Attack on CRPF Camp: Are Kashmir Locals Falling For Jaish and Lashkar's Fidayeen Training?
Paramilitary officers carry the coffins of their colleagues who died during the December 31 attack. (AP Photo)
Lethpora: What has rarely been seen in Kashmir, a group of Kashmiri militants launched a fidayeen attack on Sunday, killing five CRPF personnel. This could might as well be the start of a dangerous new wave of insurgency in Kashmir where terrorist organisations recruit locals to carry out such attacks.
Kashmiri militants have seldom posed as fidayeens though on a few occasions they have carried out suicide attacks, including one with a human bomb just outside the main entrance of the Army headquarters in Srinagar.
Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba — architects of fidayeen attacks — appoint Pakistani militants to carry out such deadly strikes because they are better equipped for the job with rigorous training and judicious use of ammunition. However, in a major departure, it looks like Jaish has laid their trust on the local cadre.
The two militants who were shot dead on Sunday were allegedly very active in this area where they carried out the attack.
The Jaish has claimed responsibility for the Lethpora strike and said the cadre won't be deterred by the Indian Army’s all out operation and would rather intensify their onslaught.
Sunday's attack was deadly and unusual in every sense despite security forces being put on maximum alert following an input about possible fidayeen attacks on New Year's Eve and the Srinagar-Jammu highway having a constant security deployment.
The fidayeens this time around comprised Kashmiri operatives who are seldom drafted for the sneak-in and strike missions like the ones in Uri, Pathankot or Nagrota. Both Jaish and Lashkar usually trusts Pakistanis cadres to mount such suicide attacks.
Two of the three militants killed in Sunday’s attack at the CRPF training centre in Lethpora on the Srinagar-Jammu highway are young Kashmiris.
One of them has been identified as Fardeen Khanday (17), who till three months back studied at a local school at Tral — hometown of slain Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani. Son of a policeman, Fardeen fled to join militants and was killed in the encounter on Sunday.
Hours after he was killed in the gunbattle, a video has surfaced in Kashmir showing slain Kashmiri youth Fardeen asking other Kashmiris to “join the fight against Indian aggression”. The video was allegedly shot moments before the attack.
Asking the Kashmiri youth to join him, Fardeen said that there is “no freedom without sacrifice”. In the video he claims that Jaish attacks have unnerved the forces and that Jaish will continue to launch more attacks like Nagrota, Pathankot and Tangdhar.
The other militant was Manzoor Baba (22), who hailed from Drubgam area of Pulwama district. A driver by profession, he had become a militant only two months ago. His name was in circulation last month when his family made a fervent appeal to him to return home. He, however, did not heed to his mother's plea.
There has been no firing since Sunday evening at the Lethpora CRPF training ground with sources reporting that a third fidayeen might still be lurking in the sprawling campus.
On Sunday, Jammu & Kashmir DGP SP Vaid told News18 that the third militant was traced to 185 CRPF camp, but he remained elusive even 34 hours into the prolonged gunbattle.
Sources say the third fidayeen may also turn out to be a local. This could, for the first time, be an all-Kashmiri fidayeen attack on a high-value target.
The two slain Kashmiri youths launched the attack on the CRPF camp around 2:30 am by firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades from the UBGL inside the camp taking the forces by surprise.
"All the attackers later entered the training centre of CRPF 185 battalion and engaged the troops in a gun battle,'' a CRPF spokesman told News18.
In the first exchange of gunfight, three CRPF men were injured with one of them later succumbing to injuries.
Constable Sharief-ud-din Ganaie of Chadoora Budgam died after being shot on the chest. He was later taken to 92 Base Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
In the daylong gunbattle, four other CRPF jawans, too, lost their lives while three others were injured.