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Forces had actionable intel on militant plans to attack CRPF’s Pulwama camp

Five personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force died in the attack that went on for 36 hours in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2018 07:24 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pulwama,Jammu and Kashmir,Lethpora attack
Army personnel move towards the CRPF training camp during the second day of encounter with militants, at Lethpora in Pulwama district of south Kashmir.(PTI Photo)

A day prior to the Lethpora attack, the Jammu and Kashmir police shared “specific and actionable” intelligence with senior CRPF officials about the impending attack by terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) operatives who were carrying armour-piercing bullets.

Five personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) died in the attack that went on for 36 hours in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on December 31.

“Muneer Khan, Inspector General (Kashmir Range) of Jammu and Kashmir police shared with his counterpart in the CRPF in Srinagar, Ravideep Sahi, (details of ) the imminent attack on Lethpora,” a senior Jammu and Kashmir police official said on condition of anonymity.

“Intel was very specific about the Lethpora camp being the target of Jaish-e-Mohammad operatives and attack was supposed to begin on night of December 31 at 1am. The attack actually began at 2:15am,” he added.

The official said that prior to this, India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) also shared intelligence with CRPF that the residences of its two inspectors general in Srinagar might by attacked by Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists.

“Yes, there was an intelligence input that was shared ‘locally’ by the Jammu and Kashmir police with regard to Lethpora camp. After getting the inputs, we had taken adequate measures to secure the camp and that’s why we managed to kill one of the attackers in the outer cordon itself,” said CRPF chief RR Bhatnagar.

The Lethpora camp houses the Pre-Induction Training Centre and the 185 battalion headquarters of CRPF. It is spread over 131 acres and has a perimeter of around 4.5kms. The perimeter wall outside the camp is still not complete and has been covered with concertina wire. CRPF officials admitted it is poorly guarded.

“After getting the inputs, night patrols were activated and even a Jammu and Kashmir police deputy superintendent of police was on patrol with us,” said Bhatnagar.

This is not the first time in recent years that despite specific and actionable intelligence, terrorists and their handlers sitting across the border in Pakistan have managed to carry out attacks.

Hours before the attack on the Pathankot airbase began on the intervening night of January 1 and 2, 2016, Indian security agencies managed to pick up conversations between the attackers and their handlers in Pakistan which suggested an imminent attack on military installations in Pathankot. The initial inputs about terrorists roaming in the area came from Punjab’s superintendent of police Salwinder Singh whose vehicle was hijacked by the attackers on the night of December 31.

Domestic intelligence agency, Intelligence Bureau issued alerts with regard to a possible suicide attack in Uri area, prior to the targeting of the army brigade headquarters in Uri.

The CRPF chief who visited the camp on Tuesday said two CRPF men received injuries while in a bullet-proof vehicle because the terrorists were using armour-piercing bullets.

“After one attacker was shot dead in the outer cordon, the second attacker went inside and took stairs to the type-two quarters building and reached at the fourth floor. He was cornered there by our room intervention team and killed. One of our boys died there. The third attacker went to nearby type-four quarters building which houses the signal room and a base clinic. One of our inspectors, who was in the signal room, died due to cardiac arrest while being evacuated,” added Bhatnagar.

Security personnel flew drones to locate the position of third terrorist and once all personnel were evacuated from the type-four building, they fired mortars, almost demolishing it, Bhatnagar said.

There were around 300 personnel in the camp at the time of attack.

The CRPF’s three-page report on the attack to the Union home ministry has given details about action taken by the force to neutralise the attackers.

First Published: Jan 03, 2018 07:17 IST