SRINAGAR: Security forces are in hot pursuit of Ismail Bhai, alias ‘Lambu’, a Pakistani affiliate belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed who is believed to have fabricated the improvised explosive device (IED) used in the February 14 attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama that left 40 personnel dead, officials said.
The officials said Ismail Bhai, according to intelligence agencies, infiltrated into Kashmir in December last year and has been moving around in the most-volatile Tral area, 46 km south of Srinagar.
There were intelligence inputs in December about the presence of a Pakistani militant, whose height is over 6.5 feet, and the same was corroborated by police informers. He has been moving around the axis of Tral-Pulwama-Awantipura, considered a Jaish-e-Mohammed-dominated belt, the officials said.
In the past, search-and-cordon operations were launched to nab him but he managed to give security forces the slip, a senior police officer said.
According to investigations so far, Ismail has been sent by the Jaish-e-Mohammed group to fabricate IEDs, besides brainwashing new recruits for becoming potential ‘fidayeens’ (suicide attackers), they said.
The officials said the IED used in the February 14 deadly strike could have been fabricated by Ismail Bhai with the help of locals.
Tral, a town of Pulwama district known for hot springs, has emerged as the breeding ground for terror groups as well as safe haven for those infiltrating from across the border.
Ever since the militancy started in Kashmir Valley in 1990s, Tral township did not see much of crackdowns as it was used by terrorists as a transit point to slip into various places of south Kashmir.
However, after the death of Burhan Wani, poster boy of Hizbul Mujahideen terror group, in July 2016, the town has virtually turned into a hub of militant activities.
This year, according to the officials, 49 terrorists were gunned down across the valley, out of which 10 were in Tral.
Sunday last, two terrorists, including Mudasir Ahmed Khan, who was alleged to be the mastermind of the February 14 terror strike, were killed in the Tral area.