A Pakistani militant of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has succeeded in escaping from the heavily cordoned Ahmednagar periphery of the capital city — yards away from the house where Hizbul Mujahideen’s “Chief Commander Operations” Ghulam Rasool Dar alias Riyaz Rasool was captured before his death in an alleged fake encounter at Shalteng on January 16, 2004 — but not before leaving behind evidence of the planning of a hig- profile fidayeen attack on Srinagar Airport.

Sources revealed to The Hindu that the lone militant, who engaged the Police and the CRPF in a gunbattle for several hours, escaped from his hideout at 3.45 a.m. on Thursday. “He fired indiscriminately and vanished into the posh locality overlooking the Anchar Lake. As his cellphone is continuously switched off, we have no clue of his whereabouts,” admitted an official associated with the overnight operation.

Bashir Ahmad, the owner of the cottage hideout housing rows of Pashmeena yarn handlooms, was taken into custody and questioned rigorously. From a sequence of evidences, that include Bashir’s disclosures, recoveries from the premises and a trail of human and technological intelligence, it was made clear that the 20-year-old militant was part of a four-member fidayeen group.

“With the help of a Kashmiri guide, the four militants had planned to reach Srinagar from Handwara, one after another, in the next few days. Our sources tipped off his presence as soon as the first militant arrived on Wednesday. We immediately launched the operation,” said an official about the first gunfight at Ahmednagar since 2003. He said that after their reunion at Ahmednagar, the militants had planned to strike one of the three critical targets “within the first fortnight of October.”

Lashkar recce

Sources said that the LeT had lately carried out reconnaissance survey of the three most sensitive installations — Srinagar Airport and the entrance of the Civil Secretariat and Legislature Complex being two of them.

“After Bemina [March 14] and Hiranagar-Samba [September 26], this could have been the third major fidayeen attack. They will continue to attempt but we will continue to foil their plans,” said a senior Police official.