After 12 years, cops crack Udhampur village massacre

NBAT

An incomplete address written by a man just before his death this may seem an unlikely clue to crack a 12-year-old case involving militants. But this is exactly what led the police to solve the massacre of seven villagers, including four village defence committee members, in Udhampur district.

Recently, three militants and their over ground worker (OGW) were arrested for the crime. The accused have been identified as Farooq Ahmed (code name Nasir), Manzoor Ahmed (code name Furqan), Abdul Latif (code name Fayaz) and Mohammad Din (OGW) all residents of Ramban district. The whereabouts of another militant, Showkat Patwari alias Hussainu, is unknown. Eight others involved in the crime have died in various encounters with the security forces during the past 10 years. They include Hizbul Mujahideen's the then divisional commanders, Billoo Gujjar and Amanullah alias Iqbal, Nadeem, Bilal, Shahid Lata Peer, Saddar Din, Gazi and Kari.

The militants had killed seven people near the site of the Sawalakote hydel project at Panchari in Udhampur district on November 30, 2001. The arrested militants had surrendered before the police between 2002 and 2007 and were granted bail by the court. In 2002, the police had closed the case and submitted a closure report to the court in 2005 stating that no clue could be gathered about the killers.

THE PLOT

Militant commanders operating in Gool and Banihal had held a series of meetings and even sent an advance party comprising Showkat Patwari, Abdul Latif, Nadeem, Bilal to contact the OGW.

After conducting a recce, over a dozen militants assembled at Sarthal (Gool) and proceeded to Tarsui near Tatta Pani on the right bank of the Chenab where they shaved their beards and donned Army and police uniforms on November 29, 2001. They crossed the Chenab with the help of wooden logs and an artificial single ropeway. They spent the night at the house of the OGW, Mohammad Din, at Sadua Tanger (Ramban) near a local police post. The next morning, they were provided with packed lunch before they left his house. After some distance, they came face-to-face with a team conducting survey of the hydel project, and also security forces and police's special task force personnel who opened fire at them at Sedua. The militants did not retaliate and continued with their journey.

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