UDHAMPUR: A suspected Pakistani terrorist was caught alive after militants today attacked a BSF convoy on Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Udhampur killing two men of the border guarding force and injuring 11 personnel while the other terrorist involved in the strike was shot dead in retaliatory fire.
The terrorist identified as Kasim Khan, who had escaped from the encounter site and taken three persons hostage in a school building in a nearby hamlet, was arrested after an operation was launched by the army and the police, defence sources said.
All the hostages have been freed and the operation has ended, Deputy Commission, Udhampur, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said.
One terrorist has been killed, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Delhi, adding that there was no link between the attack and Amarnath pilgrims passing the area. He offered condolences to the families of the jawans identified as constables Rocky and Shubhendu Roy who died in the attack even as he spoke to BSF Chief D K Pathak about the incident.
The militant strike was the first in Udhampur district in over a decade coming days after terrorists attacked Dinanagar Police Station in Gurdaspur in Punjab.
"There was firing on a BSF convoy on the highway near Samroli by militants early this morning," Chaudhary said.
Two BSF jawans were killed and 11 personnel were injured, IG, BSF (Jammu Frontier), Rakesh Kumar said.
The militants hurled grenades and opened indiscriminate fire on the convoy when it reached Nassu belt on its way from Jammu to Srinagar, IG Jammu, Danish Rana said, adding that the BSF jawans retaliated, killing one of the two militants.
The injured jawans have been taken to a hospital, he said, adding a massive combing operations has been launched by the army and the police in and around the area which has been cordoned off. Vehicular movement on the highway has been stopped due to the incident.
Reacting to the attack, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "Those behind such attacks very well know that their terror designs won't be running for long in India. That is why they are doing all such kinds of activities."
The government and the security forces were doing their best to tackle such evil designs and "without a doubt the country's respect, honour and the people's security is the government's topmost priority," he said in Delhi.
Congratulating the security forces for killing one militant and nabbing the second terrorist alive, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "Catching a terrorist alive is a huge achievement.
Due to this, in the coming time we will get to know about the future attacks which Pakistan has planned."
Azad, a former J-K Chief Minister, said Pakistan stands completely exposed.
"Earlier, it was when (Ajmal) Kasab was captured and yesterday their own officer had told where he was trained, how they (terrorists) went in the boat and how they changed the paint of the boat. I even congratulate the officer who exposed Pakistan completely," he said.
BSF officials at the forces' headquarters in Delhi said constable Rocky, who was killed in the encounter, displayed exemplary courage and shot dead the militant who had attacked the convoy.
While he hailed from Haryana, Roy, the other BSF constable killed, was from West Bengal.
A convoy carrying Amarnath pilgrims had already crossed the area on the highway when the militants attacked the BSF convoy.
Giving details about the incident, Chaudhary, DC, Udhampur, said no student was present in the school from where the terrorist was nabbed as a call for a strike over the demand for setting up an AIIMS in the region had been given.
Former J and K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said Pakistan is definitely involved in the terror attacks.
"They (the Indian leadership) must give a strong warning to our neighbours that we cannot tolerate this any longer, and this is enough. On the one hand we talk about dialogue and on the other hand terror activities continue.
"Till when will this go on? Do we just have to die, as the dialogue is not reaching any conclusion. I would like to tell the Indian government that they must convey with immediacy to our neighbours that enough is enough, we do want peace with you, but we will not tolerate terrorism any longer. They must appeal to the neighbouring government (and say) otherwise be prepared to face consequences," he said.
He said when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a dialogue with his Pakistani counterpart in Russia, "we felt that their dialogue was progressing, and we thought that matters were going to be resolved."
NC leader and ex-J and K CM Omar Abdullah said Kashmir's condition was already in a bad shape, and now this new militancy has started.
"Educated youth are getting drawn towards militancy. Today, you saw an attack in Jammu, that too in an area from where we had wiped militancy clean. This is another evidence of the incapability and failure of this government. Militancy is not shifting, it is merely resurging in areas from where we had managed to clear it," Omar said.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said it was rare that a terrorist has been capture alive after an attack and it was a big achievement for the government and for the forces.
"Because now this can be used as an evidence before international agencies. This will give proper detailing to our security forces also. And Pakistan that keeps denying its involvement in such incidents needs to face the truth now," she said.
Meanwhile, the Udhampur Deputy Commission said the militant had been been overpowered and captured by those he took as hostage. Two of them and some village defence committee (VDC) members helped in nabbing him, Chaudhary said, adding that a cache to arms and ammunition has been seized from him.
Congress leader Ambika Soni said, "Ever since the new government has come in, there have been attacks happening every day. It is impossible for people to live on the border along Rajouri, Poonch and other areas that touch Pakistan."
Soni, who is Congress in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir, said her party wants to know on what basis the government was having talks with Pakistan.
"Is there accountability on the side of person, party or entity who is violating ceasefire agreements and polluting the atmosphere for talks of peace. Not at all. So we should know," Soni said.
Lt Gen Subrata Saha, GOC, 15 Corps, expressed confidence that the army will be able to pre-empt attempts by terrorists to infiltrate across the border into India.
So far this year, 17 terrorists have been eliminated while trying to infiltrate, he said.
"So I am hopeful that this trend will continue and we will be able to maintain this, and this is important," he said, adding that "some deft changes" have been carried out to pre-empt infiltration attempts.
Infiltration, Saha said, has been curbed due to efforts to the soldiers on the ground, improved surveillance grid and a good intelligence network.