Security agencies have identified the driver of the car which ferried the ‘fidayeen’ terrorists who ambushed a CRPF bus killing eight personnel, as a probe pointed to the LeT attackers having infiltrated into Kashmir Valley through higher reaches of Gulmarg early last month.
Official sources said today that the driver, whose identity has been withheld, had driven four militants of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) from Baba Reshi, 57 km from here, four days before the deadly attack in Pampore on June 25 and kept them in a safe house in Pulwama district in south Kashmir. The driver, who has gone underground since the day of the attack, was considered as Over Ground Worker (OGW) of the militant outfit by the local police but no action was taken against him as there was no evidence so far, the sources said.
Security agencies are now hot on the trail of the driver. Piecing together the evidence collected by the security agencies so far, they said the four ‘fidayeens’ (suicide attackers) infiltrated through the higher reaches of Gulmarg in north Kashmir and reached south Kashmir in a Tata Sumo vehicle. Initially all the four terrorists had carried out a reconnaissance of the National Highway and chose the attack spot which is barely three km from Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), where LeT militants had gunned down two Army officers and three others ranks in February this year.
After the Pampore attack, raids were carried out at various places in Pulwama during which the security agencies gathered information that it was a group of four ‘fidayeens’ behind the attack. Out of the four, two were killed in swift action by the Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of CRPF during the attack while the third was killed in a gunfight in Malwari Newa village of Pulwama district on June 30.
While the identity of two fidayeens was yet to be ascertained, the third one killed in Newa village was identifed as ‘Abu Ayan’, the sources said, adding the fourth in the group is believed to have moved towards Shopian and Kulgam area where dense forests provide a natural cover for hiding.
The fidayeens behind the attack in Pampore, which is in the outskirts of the city, had chosen a spot from where they could have escaped through a side lane and take shelter in the congested lanes and bylanes which could have taken them to Tral area as well, the sources said.
Security forces carried out searches at Baba Rishi area, 57 km north of Srinagar, during which they identfied the place where the four terrorists had stayed after their infiltration in the Valley, the sources said, adding that they are believed to have entered through ‘Haji Peer pass’ in the upper reaches of Gulmarg and then trekked along foot hills of Peer Panjal range before reaching the halting point.
The army has been asked to increase the vigil along this axis and teams have fanned out along the possible route used by the militants questioning nomads and shepherd who often take their cattle and sheep along these tracks, the sources said.