Jammu and Kashmir police on Saturday said it has foiled a major terror strike here with the timely arrest of a most wanted terrorist and self-styled commander of Lashkar-e-Mustafa, believed to be a frontal organization of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). The arrest of Hidayatullah Malik alias Hasnain, an 'A' category terrorist from Shopian district, when he was in a private car was made by a joint team of Anantnag and Jammu police from Kunjwani area in the outskirts of Jammu city, a police spokesperson said.
He said Malik was one of the 10 accused in a case related to detection of a powerful car bomb which was later destroyed on the spot to avert any major mishap in Pulwama district in May last year. His seven other associates were earlier arrested from different parts of south Kashmir over the past month. In order to dismantle the structure of Lashkar-e-Mustafa, the efforts of Anantnag Police led to the arrest of its self styled chief.
The first arrest in this chain was Ayaz Bhat of Anantnag from whom one pistol was recovered on January 18, the spokesperson said. On the disclosure of Bhat, two more terror associates — Rayees Mir of Pampore and Shakir Itoo of Shopian — were arrested and two grenades were recovered from their possession, the spokesperson said, adding four more terror associates hailing from Anantnag were arrested and two pistols, AK-47 rounds and hand grenades were recovered.
During the further course of investigation, he said the arrested terrorist associates revealed that Malik was putting up in Bathindi area of Jammu and planning a major attack in Jammu.
Accordingly, a special team of Anantnag Police was constituted and deputed to Jammu to launch the operation. At about 3:30 pm, an operation was launched with the assistance of Jammu police at Kunjwani Jammu, the spokesperson said. During the joint operation, he said the terrorist attacked the joint party and tried to escape from the spot but the team apprehended him tactfully from the crowded place. Incriminating materials, arms and ammunition including two pistols and grenades have been recovered from his possession, the spokesperson said.
Earlier, Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu, Shridhar Patil said a private vehicle was intercepted by police at Kunjwani bypass on a specific information leading to the arrest of the wanted terrorist. He said the terrorist attacked the police officer leading the party in an attempt to escape but was overpowered.
He is being questioned, the officer said, adding more details would be shared as the investigation progresses. Officials said another person from Shopian, believed to be an associate of the arrested terrorist who reportedly travelled with him from Kashmir to Jammu, was arrested from Bathindi Saturday evening. Both of them were living at a rented accommodation in the area, the officials said, adding further details were awaited.