BHUBANESWAR: The Qureshy Mohalla in Rourkela’s Nala Road is a congested Muslim locality. Almost walled, it appears like a ghetto with narrow lanes. That posed a massive challenge for the team pooled in from the Special Tactical Unit (STU), an urban counter-terrorism squad, Special Operation Group (SOG) and Rourkela Police. Telangana Police had sent in a team to identify the four SIMI operatives and IB placed its men too.
“We had to arrest them but ensure that there was no collateral damage since it was a populous locality and very congested. There was virtually no margin of error,” said Special Director (Intelligence) Arun Kumar Sarangi, who monitored the joint operation from the Intelligence Headquarters at Bhubaneswar all through Tuesday night.
The 40-odd security personnel engaged in the joint operation, led by SOG Commandant Anoop Krishna and Rourkela SP R Prakash, had their task cut out. They first cordoned off the zone with a two-layered security ring and sealed every exit point. Snipers were placed at rooftops.
The operation, which began around midnight, necessitated precision as any wrong move would have alerted the five. Some of them had paid a visit to Rourkela Railway Station only a few days back and police believe that they probably were making plans to leave.
After securing every route and with their focus on the two-room house which the five had rented, the police ensured that the landlord was at a safe distance. The landlord couple with a child stayed in the same complex but had a separate entrance. With the cops acquiring every vantage position, they were sure that something was wrong with their tenant and stayed put in their home.
However, the joint squad still had little clue about what was inside the two-room house occupied by the five. “Our squad members had night vision devices and thermal imagers. Since we were dealing with a jihadi group, our commandos had come prepared,” Sarangi said. A bomb disposal squad was at the spot in case explosives were triggered during the operation. Anti-bomb jackets and blankets were also used.
First, the team sought help of a local asking him to call out the five. He agreed to help but backed out later. The operation team members then called out the occupants to come out. After a first few attempts, Nazma and three others gave themselves up. But the fifth member resisted and fired. Police fired in return.
“It was intermittent firing. We did not use assault rifles. Instead, pistols such as Glocks and MP-5 were used. About seven to eight rounds were fired by the securitymen while the operative fired about two to three rounds. Soon, our men entered the premises and disarmed him,” Sarangi explained.
Around 3.30 am, the operation was complete and ‘Fazal Five’ (Five of Abu Fazal Group) were netted with no injury to any side.