January 2001 News

Airport attack - J&K police suspect involvement of forest officials

17 January 2001
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Police is investigating the role of local aides in Lashkar's abortive attack on Srinagar airport. Police have already arrested the driver of the government jeep used by militants in the suicide attack after they got some clues about his involvement in the incident. The involvement of two Divisional Forest Officers (DFO) is also being investigated. A Mahindra jeep of the State Forest Corporation (SFC) was used by the six-member squad of Lashkar-e-Toiba when they atempted to sneak into thehighly sanitised Sringar airport on Tuesday afternoon. A.K. Bhan,Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, confirmed the arrest ofthe driver of SFC. 'Preliminary investigation has established the involvement of the driver. He was hand-in-glove with the suicide squad of Lashkar,' Bhan told The Indian Express. The arrested driver has been identified as Bilal Ahmad, a resident ofRainawari, Srinagar. Bhan said the vehicle was taken from the Lal Nagar,Chanpora residence of Mohammad Yousuf Gabroo, manager, SFC. However, Gabroohad denied that his official vehicle was taken away from his compound. The IG Kashmir said two militants who were part of the suicide squad hadgone to the DFO's house along with the driver before they headed towardsthe airport. He, however, said the DFO's involvement is yet to beascertained. 'There is another forest officer who had boarded thevehicle, but it is a matter of investigation whether he was forcibly pushedinto the jeep,' he said. Meanwhile, the mystery about the involvement of a woman killed at theairport has been solved. The deceased has been identified as Nasreena Begum,resident of 237 Pahari Bhojla, Chitli Kabar, Jamia Masjid, Delhi. However, there is some confusion on the actual address. Another versionsays that the deceased was a resident of 1631, Gali Andehri, Pahari Bojla,Turkman Gate, Delhi. Police had earlier suspected her to be associated with the suicide squad. The deceased woman was a garment trader and was operating in Srinagar. Shewas identified by her business partner Mahender Singh. It was learnt thatNasreena had gone to the airport to receive Mehender. Police have alsoarrested the driver of an auto (Azad Ahmad Khan, resident of Narawara) inwhich the slain lady had gone to the airport. Khan is being questioned toascertain the activities of the deceased lady before the incidenttook place. Police said the lady was waiting at the drop gate of airportfor more than half-an-hour. Sources, however, said the police had prior information about the Lashkar plan. In fact, the police had set up barricades since Monday evening. According to police, eleven persons, including the six Lashkar militants, three CRPF men and two civilians were killed in the two-hour long encounter. However, passengers whose plane had just landed said there were more bodies. 'I saw 15 to 16 bodies from the airport parking lot. There were several injured also, among them some lady constables,' said Faisal Wani, a Class XII student who was returning from Delhi on the Jet Airways flight. Lashkar, which owed the responsibility for the attack yesterday, todayclaimed that the head of the Fidayeen squad Abu Tariq involved in theairport attack had managed to escape.


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