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Lashkar terrorist Naveed Jhatt, also known as Abu Hanzulla, escaped during an attack on a Srinagar hospital on February 6.(PTI)

Srinagar hospital attack: Four, including alleged mastermind, arrested for helping Lashkar terrorist escape

WT24 Desk

Police arrested four people for allegedly helping a Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist escape from a Srinagar hospital after a dramatic raid left two security personnel dead on Tuesday,Hindustan Times reports.

Police identified the four arrested as Shakeel Bhat, Tika Khan, Rahil Kachroo and Mohammad Shafi, adding that they were directly involved in the escape of the LeT militant, 22-year-old Jhatt alias Abu Hanzalla.

Bhat was the alleged mastermind of the raid at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital to free Jhatt, who was brought for treatment in custody, police added. Six other people, said to be militant sympathisers, have been detained for questioning, they said.

“SIT has started the probe and due to scientific evidence we ascertained who were involved. They were identified, raids were conducted. We apprehended two terrorists and two OGWs. After their arrest we are left with Naveed and another terrorist who are still at large,” said Muneer Khan, state’s additional director-general of police.

Sources said the arrested men belong to south Kashmir’s Pulwama area and were apprehended by the state police’s special operation group during separate raids on Wednesday night.

“Four people, who had done a recce and were also present in the hospital during the shootout, were arrested. Two of them had even fired,’’ a senior police officer, who did not want to be named, said.

Bhat’s motorcycle was used in the escape of the militant, police said. Khan, a resident of Pulwama, is alleged to have provided his car for further transportation of Jhatt out of the city, police said.

Jhatt is at present believed to be in the Pulwama area of south Kashmir, they said. Kachroo was another accomplice who also provided help in Jhatt’s escape after firing bullets at policemen.

Shafi, who is from Narbal on the outskirts of Srinagar city, had posed as a patient to provide cover for the Jhatt’s escape. A fifth man, identified as Hilal of Pulwama, who helped in the escape is absconding and believed to be with Jhatt.

Kashmir’s home-grown militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack. The officials said that the police were able to zero in on the four accused with the help of CCTV camera footage and conversations on social media. They have also seized a motorcycle allegedly used by the militants to flee from the area.

Jhatt, 20, received commando training at the Lashkar’s headquarters in Muridke before sneaking into India in 2012 as a teenager.

He was arrested in 2014 and managed to get a stay order on his transfer from Srinagar’s central jail to another jail outside the valley in 2016 and subsequently in 2017.

In a related development, the state home department on Thursday suspended superintendent of central jail, Hilal Ahmed Rather, pending an enquiry, an official order said. Rather will remain attached to the Director General of Prison’s office till the enquiry is over.

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