Hours after Sunday’s deadly attack on one of its base in north Kashmir’s Uri town — that left 18 soldiers dead — the Army said four militants who carried out of the attack belonged to the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit based in Pakistan.
“All four killed were foreign terrorists and had carried with them items which had Pakistani markings. Initial reports indicate that the slain terrorists belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad tanzeem (outfit),” Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh said in South Block in New Delhi after the attacks.
Investigators probing the Uri suicide attacks are working overtime to identify the four fedayeen who stormed into 12 Infantry Brigade in Uri, and all the initial indications are leading towards Jaish outfit. The NIA, which overtook the investigation of the Uri attack from Army, is looking into the case from different angles, which also include studying the previous successful infiltration attempts made by the outfit and the attacks carried out by the group along the LoC.
A majority of the attacks carried out by Jaish in recent years have been suicide attacks, in fact, the outfit introduced the concept of the suicide bombing in Kashmir insurgency when it carried out its first suicide attack in April 2000. An 18-year-old Srinagar boy detonated a car-bomb outside the Army’s 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar. It was also for the first time that a militant laced with explosives blew himself up in the conflict-ridden state.
What is alarming for the security agencies is the increasing number of attacks carried out by the group in recent years, particularly along the LoC. The majority of these attacks have taken place along the LoC and all of them were suicide attacks. The outfit has fast replaced Lashkar-e-Taiba in launching suicide missions on military and other security formations in the state.
“The life of a Jaish militant once he leaves Pakistan to carry out attack is very short, most of them have been killed along the LoC. In recent years all the attack carried out by the group almost mirror each other. They attack the first Army installation they encounter after crossing the LoC,” an intelligence officer told Firstpost.
So when Baramulla police early this year in February arrested Mohammad Sadiq, a member of the outfit, alive from Kanispora area, everyone was shocked. On 25 November, Jaish militants attacked a Gorkha Rifles Camp along Kalsuri Ridge in Tangdhar area near the LoC in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, leaving a military contractor dead before three attackers were gunned down. What rattled the forces was the recovery of bags inscribed with Afzal Guru Squad from the three slain militants. All the four militants infiltrated through Tangdar area and struck the camp but Sadiq managed to flee from the spot. He was one among the four tasked to carry out suicide attacks in Kashmir.
Earlier Colonel Santosh Mahadik, the Commanding officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was killed during an encounter in Haji Naka forest area of Kupwara. The outfit took the responsibility of the attack saying three militants, who attacked the camp in Tangdhar, were its members.
Jaish was founded by Maulana Masood Azhar, a fiery orator, in January 2000 after his release in Taliban-governed Kandahar, Afghanistan, from Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail in exchange for passengers of hijacked IC-814 Indian Airlines plane. Azhar was arrested in Srinagar in 1994 on terrorism charges.
“Revenge has begun and it will reach where you cannot even imagine,” Azhar said in January 2014 in a rally organized by the outfit in Muzaffarabad in PoK.
Since then, the signature of Jaish-e-Mohammad was found in attacks on army bases at Mohra and Tangdhar in north Kashmir, at Kathua and Samba in Jammu region, and at Pathankot airbase in Punjab. The comeback was lethal.
The outfit was once considered to be the most infiltrated group by Kashmir police, which led to its decline in valley and by mid 2013 it was on the verge of extinction when two of its last three surviving commanders were killed in that year, leaving the outfit with a total cadre capacity of eight militants in Kashmir, the lowest since it was formed 13 years ago, according to the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Earlier it was considered the deadliest group only second to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). But after the killing of Gazi Baba, a top brass of the outfit and the mastermind of the Parliament attack, the outfit was never able to regroup in Kashmir. Jaish has been accused of the 13 December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament in New Delhi. The outfit was banned by the Indian government under provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) on 25 October 2001.
However, in recent years it has carried out a sustained trail of attacks on Army installations along the LoC, one in which Colonel Mahadik was killed.
Army on Tuesday dealt a major blow to militants who tried to sneak into Uri region in Kashmir, killing ten militants. It is not clear who carried out the infiltration but don’t be surprised if the fingers are pointed at Jaish as it fast replaces Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Kashmir again.