Sidhra Encounter Follow-Up: Burnt truck ferrying militants may become hurdle in investigation, say Officials

Jammu : A day after four militants were killed in an encounter at Sidhra area of Jammu, the intelligence agencies expressed concern over the burnt truck used in the commission of crime, which they termed as ‘destruction of evidences’, stating that damaged truck may become hurdle in the ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, police have launched massive search operations in several areas, including at the general bus stand and railway station, to track down the missing truck driver, who managed to flee from the spot amid gunfight between forces and militants.

Pleading anonymity, a senior officer from the intelligence agency, told news agency, that the truck used for transportation of militants was the main evidence from which the investigation could have proceeded further. “The vehicle loaded with husk ferrying militants caught fire in the initial exchange and almost turned to ashes within no time despite the best effort of dousing fire and saving the evidence,” he said. “Whenever the militants infiltrate for some assignment, they carry food packets (with marking), maps, papers-plans, coded sheets and I –Day cards, which are used to establish their identity and links with terror outfits. In this case, everything turned to ashes, the entire crime spot was burnt and later earth mover pressed in and demolished the remaining traces, which definitely would create hurdles in the investigation and establishing the identity of four killed militants.”

Earlier, after the encounter, Additional Director General of Police, Jammu Zone, Mukesh Singh said “identity of terrorist was not established yet. The number plate of the truck was fake. The engine and chassis number has also been tampered and the help of forensic teams will be sought in this regard,” he had said.

Moreover, Special Operations Group (SOG) and Crisis Response Team (CTR) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police launched a massive search near the encounter site and forest areas to nab the only alive witness of the driver who managed to flee from the spot.

Forces cordoned Bajalta Forest, Mohmaya Forest, and way heading towards Nagotra and carried out a thorough search operation, the official said, adding the operation is still underway and further details are awaited.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the entire route was also sought and station house officers were directed to minutely observe the footage and keep watch on suspicious activities. Security forces were also seen checking the identity cards of commuters at bus stands and Jammu railway station. The officials said that sniffer dogs were also pressed into service and efforts are on to nab the driver and also to identify the owner of the truck.

The highway security grid has beefed up and search is being done at bus stands, railway stations and marketplaces, while all checkpoints have also been alerted.

“Other scientific and electronic evidence is being collected to identify the terror group behind the transportation of the terrorists and to identify the Over Ground Workers (OGW) support structure of the terrorists (in Jammu region),” he said.

Pertinently, an encounter broke out between the terrorists and security forces after a truck loaded with husk was intercepted near Tawi Bridge along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on Wednesday morning, while the vehicle was on its way to Kashmir. The truck driver fled the scene taking advantage of dense fog before the gunfight started, a police official said, adding search operations and checking of vehicles were intensified to trace him.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition including seven AK-47 rifles, one M4 rifle, three pistols, 14 grenades and around 50,000 were recovered from the possession of the slain terrorists whose identity and group affiliation are awaited.

An FIR has also been registered in connection with the encounter, the officer said—(KNO)

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