Indian intelligence and security agencies have identified that terror groups targeting India are focussing their efforts on using the Sialkot-Shakargarh and Bhimber-Samani sectors, both of which have been used in the past by these groups to infiltrate India.
The proscribed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is expected to use both sectors to infiltrate terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC) in coming months, intelligence reports, with the help of remnants of erstwhile Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) network that are still operational in the area, and target Jammu and south Kashmir.
According to a dossier prepared by Indian security agencies, these channels have been used in the past with terrorists involved in Nagrota army camp (November 2016), Sujwan (February 2018), Jhajjar Kotli (Sept 2018) and Nagrota toll plaza attack (January) having entered India through this channel, using the Bein nullah in Shakargarh to crossover into J&K.
The dossier notes that Kashif Jan, Irfan Jhangvi and Shahid Latif, who coordinated the terror attack at Pathankot airbase in 2016, were actively involved in launching terrorists into India from Dehira and Sarjal in Shakargarh. A number of JeM terrorists have infiltrated India through the same route including Umar and Usman, sons of JeM’s chief Mazood Azhar, his elder brother and main accused in the 1999 IC-814 hijacking, Azhar Ibrahim, bodyguard of JeM’s defacto leader, Mufti Rauf Asghar, Mohammed Ismail, and an explosive trainer at Balakot camp , Rasheed Ghazi,. All these high profile terrorists infiltrated India in 2018.
In January , senior JeM commanders Azhar Ibrahim and Masood Azhar’s son Abdullah are known to have supervised the terror group activities at launch pads in the Sialkot sector and regular movement of Jaish terror cadre has been reported there since February.
Another Jaish operative Abdul Manan aka Doctor is also quite active in Sarjal in Shakargarh, according to the dossier. He was one of the key conspirators in the Nagrota Toll Plaza attack and works with a Pakistan-based Indian fugitive from Pulwama, Ashiq Ahmed Nangroo. A truck driver by profession, Nangroo is responsible for smuggling arms from Sialkot sector and move along the Jammu-Samba-Pathankot highway in the past.
The Bhimber-Samani sector’s unique topography allows Pakistani terrorists easily access to Jammu-Rajauri-Shopian (Mughal Road) and enables them use this axis to carry out strikes in Jammu, Rajauri and Reasi and also allows them a route to tap south Kashmir, which is always on the boil.
To push infiltrators, the Pakistani deep state has reactivated networks of former HuJI terrorist Nassarullah Masood Langryal, who is working through his key HuJI key operatives Mohammed Imran Zaffarwal of Bhimber in Occupied Kashmir and Tariq Bhai of Narowal in Pakistan Punjab, according to intelligence inputs. Langryal is also known to be in touch with a PoK based HuJI commander.
According to the dossier, given that the Taliban is its ideological Deobandi brother, the JeM has moved around 300-350 cadre for weapons training from Balakot and Peshawar camps in Pakistan to Taliban run camps in Kunar, Nuristan and Jalalabad provinces along the Durand Line.
The dossier says that movement of terror cadre into Afghanistan could be to escape Balakot type of Indian air strike in the future or under pressure from Pakistan which is seeking to get itself white listed at the Paris plenary of FATF this month.