Mohammad Sadiq, 19, a resident of Sialkote in Pakistan, smiled to the dozens of cameras gathered inside the DIG's office in North Kashmir's Baramulla district; he appeared calm when he was paraded before the media on Thursday.
Sadiq, wearing a Kashmiri Pheran and green striped sweater had his his hands tied by a long chain; there was barely any feeling of uneasiness on his face, as he moved behind a large desk which was decorated with arms and ammunition recovered from his possession.
Sadiq belongs to the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group, tasked to carry out suicide attacks in Kashmir, along with three others. They infiltrated through Tangdar areas of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, last November and struck an army camp on the Line of Control.
On 25 November, pre-dawn the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists attacked a Gorkha Rifles Camp along Kalsuri Ridge in Tangdhar area near the Line of Control in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, leaving a military contractor dead before three attackers were gunned down.
It is unclear if the security agencies in Kashmir knew that a fourth attacker had escaped from the camp. Three of Sadiq's accomplices from Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hussain, Malik and Rizwan were all killed inside the army camp in November.
NN Joshi, the defence spokesperson in Srinagar had said that the Army had managed to kill three militants in the operation by “foiling an attempted suicide attack.” However, no one talked about the fourth militant, who has escaped from the encounter site and was arrested two days ago by the Baramulla police.
The police managed to catch Sadiq off-guard, the fourth suicide attacker alive — he had managed to give a slip to security forces and was arrested two days back in Kanispora area of Baramulla.
The Line of Control (LoC) along Kupwara district has witnessed some of the major gun battles between security forces and militants in the last few years. Although the security agencies say there are hardly any local militants in the area, many spots along the porous de-facto border between India and Pakistan along Kupwara in Kashmir Valley are prone to infiltration.
Recently, the Core Commander of the Army’s 15 Corps in Srinagar, Lt Gen Satish Kumar Dua, accepted that Kupwara has emerged as a major infiltration route in Kashmir.
According to police sources, Sadiq has contacted his Pakistani handlers after slipping away from Tangdar, and was instructed to go towards Kupwara and then towards Baramulla.
DIG north Kashmir, Gareeb Das, told Firstpost that Sadiq had stayed in Jungles for all these months and after the police in north Kashmir managed to bust a Jaish module in Handwara area, they received leads about him.
“A group of four people — they were all the suicide attackers — Fidayeen entered the Kupwara area and carried out attack on the Army camp in Tanghdar on 25 November last year,” DIG Das told Firstpost.
According to the DIG during interrogation Sadiq confessed of setting on fire an Oil depot inside the Army camp in Tanghdar, which led to the destruction of several vehicles, before he was asked by militants to leave the area.
Das said that the group of four JeM militants were launched from Athmuqam in Pakistan administrated Kashmir and tasked to carry out Fidayeen attack on any camp near the LoC.
“Ultimately we isolated him from the civilian areas and arrested him.” He added.
This group of militants, with the help of GPS devices, started their journey on foot on November 24 near the LoC on PoK side and continued their journey till they reached the Tanghdar Army camp in around 6-7 hours and attacked it, DIG, Das said.
According to the police, after they had carried out the attack, Sadiq was the only teenager in the group, and was asked by others to leave the site of the attack.
“He changed his clothes and boarded a Sumo along with his weapon from Tanghdar. After reaching Kupwara he was told to wait for a contact who will take him to another place and with the help of some people he reached Baramulla,” DIG, Das, said.
Before entering Kashmir, Sadiq had received three months of training in a JeM camp, where he was trained in in a Fidayeen attack.
The arrest follows one of the worst encounters between security forces and militants on the outskirts of Srinagar, that left six people dead, including two officers of the elite Para forces of the Indian army.