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How the BSF got Ghazi Baba

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | September02, 2003 08:59 IST

For Border Security Force Assistant Commandant Binu Chandran, it was just another furnished bedroom. His superiors had sent him in to raid the house, in Srinagar's Dana Mazaar residential area, to get Jaish-e-Mohammed militant Ghazi Baba, the main accused in the Parliament attack case.

"We got the information early in the morning and we left immediately and parked our vehicles 2km away from the house. We later began inching towards the house and we encircled it first," Chandran, who suffered multiple fractures in the encounter that followed, told journalists at Srinagar's Bone and Joint Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment.

All Chandran could see was an oddly placed dressing table inside the well-furnished room. He pulled its drawers and tried to move the mirror, but nothing seemed to work. Something inside Chandran told him that all was not right.

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Unable to decide what to do, he kicked at the dressing table thrice and it turned out to be a secret door, which started opening slowly. Before Chandran could overcome his surprise he received a volley of fire from the room behind the door.

"The militants fired a sharp burst from their automatics and lobbed a grenade resulting in injuries to our officers.

"The lights went out and we were in darkness. I remained silent in the room and the militants hurled two more grenades. Balbir Singh, the wireless operator, received serious injuries and he lay on the floor, bleeding profusely. Balbir was probably dead before he hit the ground," he said.

Chandran had no idea how much firepower the militants had.

"One grenade, which fell near me, luckily failed to explode. I had a miraculous escape."

He ran straight to the second floor of the house and took position with his guards.

"The militants started firing towards us as they came out. One bullet nearly hit me. We were two officers and finally we decided to jump from the third floor. We were later shifted to hospital with multiple fractures."

The BSF officers said after identification the body was handed over to the police for burial.

"Last reports said that the bodies had to be exhumed again for in the heat of the moment they had forgotten to take down their fingerprints," Chandran said.

He said the BSF had been maintaining a vigil in the area following leads provided by a militant who was arrested earlier.

However, the neighbours around the house had no idea what was in store. All they knew was that two families were living in the house.

According to the BSF, Ghazi was living there along with his wife and their three-month-old baby. However, nothing is known about his wife and child.

"We never knew that militants are living in the house," said a neighbour wishing anonymity.

The BSF is not allowing any movement near the house and a tight cordon has been laid around it. "We will soon clear the debris," said a BSF trooper on the spot.

A police spokesperson in Srinagar said on Sunday evening that a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, including 52kg of RDX, 20 rifle grenades, two magazines, eleven hand-grenades, 318 rounds, one pistol, two wireless sets, one IED, and the personal diary of Ghazi Baba were found in the house.

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