Srinagar hospital attack: Four arrested for helping LeT terrorist Naveed Jhatt escape
The four arrested for helping LeT terrorist Naveed Jhatt escape include the alleged mastermind of the raid at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagarindia Updated: Feb 08, 2018 23:33 IST
Police arrested four people for allegedly helping a jailed Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant escape from a Srinagar hospital where a dramatic raid left two security personnel dead on Tuesday, and released details of the plot to free him, that they claim was finalised in prison.
In a related development, the state home department on Thursday suspended superintendent of central jail, Hilal Ahmed Rather, pending an inquiry, an official order said.
Police identified the four arrested as Shakeel Bhat, Tika Khan, Rahil Kachroo and Mohammad Shafi, adding that they were directly involved in the escape of the LeT militant, 22-year-old Naveed Jhatt, alias Abu Hanzalla.
They also seized a car and a motorcycle used in the incident and recovered one pistol each from Bhat and Khan.
Another militant, Hilal Ahmad, and Jhatt are still at large. Giving details of the case, ADGP Muneer Khan described the arrests as a breakthrough that could lead to their capture.
“Since the incident was serious and the first of its kind, a special investigation team was formed to probe it,” he added.
The police said Shakeel Bhat , Tikka Khan and Hilal Ahmad were the alleged masterminds of the raid at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital to free Jhatt, who was brought for treatment while in custody.
Six other people have been detained for questioning, although the police did not provide their names.
“During investigation it was revealed that the conspiracy regarding the escape was made some four months back. The militants had attempted something similar in Pulwama Court but were not successful. However the final planning was done a few weeks ago ,’’ Muneer Khan said .
Khan said the two militants, Tikka Khan and Hilal used to visit Jhatt in central jail and were also in touch with him through mobile phones. Khan did not comment on the presence of phones in the jail. .
The arrested men belong to south Kashmir’s Pulwama area and were apprehended during multiple raids on Wednesday night.
According to the police on the day of the attack, the five militants took positions in and around the hospital and mingled with patients and attendants. “When Jhatt was taken to hospital his Kadi man (the policeman holding the handcuffs), who was unarmed and a constable who was holding him on the side were shot at from close range,” ADGP Khan said.
``Both Jhatt and Hilal fired as the militants were able to push a pistol into detained militants pocket,” he added. Jhatt and Hilal can be seen running with pistols in the CCTV footage.
Muneer Khan said the rest of the policemen did not fire as the hospital was packed and the militants rapidly mingled with the crowd. “Had we fired there would have been many civilian deaths,” he added.
Bhat’s motorcycle was used in the escape of the militant, police said. Both Jhatt and Hilal rode with him . The other members escaped in a car driven by Tikka Khan. ``Hilal and Jhatt were dropped at Abdullah bridge (near the city centre Lal Chowk) from where Tikka Khan manged to drive them to Pulwama,” he added.
Hilal and Jhatt are believed to have stayed in Pulwama for a night and left for unknown destination after that. A day later home grown militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen released an audio messages saying both were safe.
On Thursday, the outfit released photo of Jhatt with the organisation’s commander Saddam Padder.
The Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack, while LeT had called it a “coordinated operation”.
Sources said that the police were able to zero in on the four accused with the help of CCTV camera footage and conversations on social media.
Jhatt, 20, received commando training at the Lashkar’s headquarters in Muridke before sneaking into India in 2012 as a teenager.
He was arrested in 2014 and managed to get a stay order on his transfer from Srinagar’s central jail to another jail outside the valley in 2016 and subsequently in 2017.
Police believes that LeT was desperate to get Jhatt out as all top brass of the outfit was killed. “First Abu Dujana was killed and later Abu Ismail. After this LeT has not named any other commander, their desperation to get Naveed Jhatt out can mean he is a potential commander,” Muneer Khan added.