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Special group formed to suggest security upgrade of Jammu-Srinagar highway

Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh Monday said a study group has been set up to suggest measures to strengthen security along the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar highway, following the Pulwama terror attack.

Special group formed to suggest security upgrade of Jammu-Srinagar highway
Over 40 jawans died in the Pulwama attack on Jammu-Srinagar highway on February 14, 2019. (IANS Photo)

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh Monday said a study group has been set up to suggest measures to strengthen security along the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar highway, following the Pulwama terror attack.

Singh said two suicide attacks were foiled by police with the killing of two Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists after the February 14 terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

"We have constituted a study group which will be surveying the highway within next two days and suggest measures for further strengthening the security mechanism on the vital road," Singh told reporters here tonight.

Sharing details about the arrest of Hizbul Mujahideen suicide bomber Owais Amin, a resident of Shopian district of south Kashmir, who made an abortive attempt to target a Jammu-bound CRPF convoy near Banihal in Ramban district on Saturday, Singh said Pakistani hand behind the unsuccessful attack cannot be ruled out.

Amin was arrested within 36 hours of the incident by a joint team of police and the Army near Jawahar Tunnel when he was trying to flee.

Jammu-Srinagar national highway is the only all-weather road that links Kashmir with rest of the country and witnesses heavy traffic movement, including vehicles of security forces moving in and out of the valley, on a daily basis.

"We are always concerned with the security of the commuters including the convoys. Soon after this incident happened, we luckily got timely clues and with coordinated efforts with other security forces and Army were able to nab the culprit," Singh said.

The arrested terrorist was produced before media persons but the police chief did not share much details especially about his disclosures during interrogation.

"We are exercising all alert and all security measures have been taken to maintain peace and foil terrorist attacks," he said when asked about reports of presence of more suicide attackers.

"The SOPs are being implemented to the best possible extent but there are certain grey areas which we need to look into," he said ruling out security lapse leading to the incident.

He said airlifting of all security personnel was not possible because of the limited number of seats. "Many personnel are availing the facility."

Terming the arrest of Owais a "major success", the officer said he has given some leads and police is focusing on various aspects including the persons behind this attack, where the IEDs were fabricated inside the car.

He said the trigger mechanism for detonating the bomb was not perfect leading to a minor explosion in the car, while the secondary blast could not happen.

"After the minor explosion, the militant believed that he can run away and jumped out of the car and fled the spot. He hid himself in an orchard and returned to the highway on Saturday night, took lift in a truck to cross over to Kashmir but the alertness of the security personnel resulted in his arrest," he said.

Singh said as per the investigation, he is affiliated to terror group Hizbul Mujahideen.

He said the terrorist was trying to carry out an attack similar to that of Pulwama as the material found from the car was enough to cause heavy damage.

"We found different types of explosives and inflammable substances including over 50 gelatine sticks of super power 90 grand, urea, sulphur, ammonium nitrate, two bottles of petrol, two LPG cylinders -- one big and one small, the remains of the IED which caused the minor blast and fire in the vehicle and one unexploded IED fitted in a tiffin box," he said.

After his arrest, the accused was put to sustained questioning and he confessed his role and further investigation is on, Singh said.