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J&K: UP serial blasts mastermind shot dead

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: January 25, 2008 12:11 IST
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The Jammu & Kashmir police on Friday killed Bashir Ahmed alias Sabah, the chief commmander of Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami and the alleged mastermind of the Uttar Pradesh serial blasts at Chatroo village in Kishtawar district on Friday.

A senior police officer told that Ahmed was a most wanted militant.

He said Ahmed was responsible for training and recruiting militants in UP's Faizabad and Varanasi diistricts.

The killing has been described by senior police officers as a major success.

The HuJI chief, who was being tracked by the Jammu and Kashmir police for nearly a month, was killed in an ambush by the commandos of the state police.

Ahmed, a resident of Kishtawar division, was being tracked after his name surfaced during the interrogation of militants arrested in connection with the serial blasts. The blasts, which took place in three court premises of Uttar Pradesh in November last year, had killed over a dozen people.

A satellite phone, a wireless set and some AK rifles were recovered from the slain militant.

Ahmed's role was also being probed in the twin blasts at Hyderabad.

He joined Harkat-ul-Ansar in 1992 and received training in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir before moving to Alaq-e-Ghair in Afghanistan, where he specialised in handling and making of improvised explosive devices, communication systems and jungle warfare.

Ahmed was then made the in-charge of militant training from 1995-98 at Jungle-Mangal camp in PoK and Mansera in Pakistan before returning to Jammu and Kashmir.

He was arrested by the police from Karpan in 2000, but was released in 2002 when the Public Safety Act was quashed. Immediately after his release, he joined the HuJI and rose to the rank of supreme commander.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Kuldeep Khoda told PTI that it was a neatly executed operation. "It is definitely a major success for us, especially after the UP police informed us about his role in the serial blasts. The entire team of Doda range, who participated in the operation that took place in three feet deep snow, are being suitably rewarded."

The name of Ahmed, who was also known as Sabah Hijaji, came up during the interrogation of two HuJI militants -- Sajjad and Tariq Kashmiri alias Akhthar -- arrested from Doda town in December 2007 for planting explosive devices at three courts in Uttar Pradesh.

The two had claimed that Ahmed was the mastermind of the serial blasts in the state and the consignment of ammonium nitrate and RDX was provided by him.

They said they got direct orders from Hijaji in Doda area, who was under pressure from across the border to act following continued depletion of his cadre, who were either being killed in encounters or arrested.

Sources said that Ahmed was planning to carry out serial blasts in Mumbai and had also conducted reconnaissance at Gateway of India, Andheri, Oberoi Hotel and Navi Mumbai for planting explosive devices.

However, Ahmed changed his mind and decided to carry out serial blasts in various courts of Uttar Pradesh, to get back at lawyers who refused to take up cases of militants.

Faizabad court premises had witnessed an altercation between lawyers and HuJI militants. The local bar association had banned its advocates from taking up their cases.

While the court premises in Varanasi was a witness to the beating of one Waliullah Khan, the main accused in the Sankat Mochan temple explosions, lawyers in Lucknow also manhandled two Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, who were planning to kidnap Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Additional Reportage: PTI

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar