Four suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists were killed and two policemen injured in a gunbattle on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway after a truck carrying newly infiltrated militants was intercepted on the outskirts of Jammu city on Thursday, top police officials said.
The terrorists had come to execute a "big plan" which has now been foiled, Inspector General of Police, Jammu, Mukesh Singh, said.
Reacting to the success of the security forces, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said, "No outside force can derail us from our mission of peace and progress."
In Srinagar, IGP, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the four terrorists were on their way to the Kashmir Valley to disturb the District Development Council polls scheduled later this month, as Pakistan has been trying to cause trouble in the political process.
Giving details of the encounter, IGP Mukesh Singh told a press conference in Jammu that ever since the announcement of DDC polls, police have been receiving inputs about a possible infiltration bid by terrorists in Jammu.
"We had kept our all teams deployed at check points. There were intelligence inputs that militants may sneak in with large quantities of arms and ammunition," the IGP Jammu said.
A truck was stopped at Ban toll plaza in Nagrota area at 5 am for checking, but the driver left the vehicle and fled, the police official said.
Immediately, Central Reserve Police Force and police personnel moved to search the vehicle and came under fire from the terrorists hiding in the truck.
According to the IGP Jammu, the militants were asked to surrender but they ignored the announcement leading to a gunbattle.
Other security forces also joined in resulting in a fierce gunbattle in which terrorists lobbed grenades and fired arms, he said.
In the three-hour-long gunbattle, four terrorists were killed and two policemen injured, the police officer said.
The truck, loaded with rice sacks, caught fire during the encounter. The bodies of the terrorists, hiding in a cavity within the truck, were recovered.
The two injured policemen, Kuldeep Raj and Mohammad Ishaq Malik, were admitted to Government Medical College hospital in Jammu. They were out of danger, officials said.
A huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosive material, including 11 AK rifles, three pistols, 24 magazines, 29 grenades and six UBGL grenades, was recovered, the IGP, Jammu, said.
Besides, medicines, explosive material, bundle of wires, electronic circuits and bags in huge quantities were recovered from them.
"This is for the first in the last few years that such a large quantity of weapons were recovered from slain terrorists," Mukesh Singh said.
Asked about the motive of the militants, L-G Sinha said given the quantity of weapons recovered from the slain terrorists, it seems that the group had infiltrated recently and were "planning something very big".
"But their plan stands foiled," he said, adding the operation was carried out jointly by the police, CRPF and the Army.
The recovered weapons indicate that the terrorists belong to JeM. They had a big terror plan, the L-G said, adding efforts were on to track down the truck driver.
A senior police officer said, it seems the terrorists infiltrated from across the International Border in Jammu region before boarding a Kashmir-bound truck.
Speaking on the sidelines of a function in Srinagar, IGP Vijay Kumar said, "For the last few days, Pakistan has increased attempts to infiltrate militants into this side and to disturb the elections for which the process is on."
"In this context, Jammu Police and security forces have done a good job by neutralising four Pakistanis (militants). Their (militants') aim was to come to Kashmir to disturb the election process".
On January 31, a group of terrorists had opened fire at a police team near Ban Toll Plaza, triggering a gunfight in which three terrorists were killed and a policeman got injured.
Jaish-e-Mohammed is exploiting the International Boundary area in Punjab– Jammu sector to push in maximum number of terrorists, officials said.
The Jammu and Kashmir L-G visited the injured personnel undergoing treatment at the hospital and complimented them for their bravery while assuring them of all assistance in their treatment.
"I salute the exemplary courage and bravery displayed by our forces. The nation is proud of your professionalism and commitment in protecting its sovereignty and integrity," Lt Governor added.