Four men - two purportedly from Punjab and two from Kashmir - took away a taxi, hired from Pathankot in Punjab, after allegedly threatening the driver with a gun and tying him to a tree at Chanderkot in Ramban district of J&K on Tuesday night. As the carjacking comes just ahead of Independence Day celebrations of August 15, security agencies have sounded a red alert in J&K, and police there have formed a coordination panel with their Punjab counterparts to find the men, suspected to be militants.
Pathankot senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rakesh Kaushal said two men, seemingly in their early 20s, had come to Mikki Tour and Travel at Malikpur Chowk on the Pathankot-Jammu national highway on Monday evening and sought a Maruti Dzire to go to Srinagar for a business trip. "The taxi operator said that when he told them he did not have a Dzire available, Karanveer, who was sitting there, accepted their offer of `7,000 and took them with him in his Dzire (PB-35P-4434)," the SSP told HT. No identity proofs of the travelers were sought by the operators.
"On Tuesday evening, a party of CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) found the driver of the car tied to a tree at a secluded place in Ramban district in Jammu region… [He] said he was hired by two people from Pathankot and two more people had joined them near Jammu," a Srinagar-based police spokesman told HT. "Once on the highway, the driver was told to leave the car, at gunpoint."
The Pathankot SSP said it was specifically at Lakhanpur in Kathua district of J&K that two youths who spoke Kashmiri boarded the car and they headed towards Srinagar, as per the driver, Karanveer. The driver has said that at Chanderkot, one of the passengers asked him to stop the car, saying that he was feeling giddy. As he stopped, they dragged him out, beat him up, tied him with a tree and fled with the car, allegedly at gunpoint, according to police from the two states.
A high alert has been sounded across J&K as police fear the vehicle could be used by militants for "subversive activities" on August 15, Independence Day. J&K director general of police (DGP) K Rajendra Kumar, meanwhile, assured of adequate security arrangements.
At Pathankot, police quizzed relatives of the driver. "We are constantly in touch with our counterparts in J&K," SSP Kaushal said.