Police on Thursday presented before the media four people it says were arrested for helping Lashker-e-Taiba militant Mohammed Naveed Jhatt escape from a Srinagar hospital two days ago.
Addressing a press conference along with senior police officers, Kashmir police chief Munir Khan claimed that the conspiracy for the attack had been hatched four months ago.
Shakeel Bhat, Tika Khan, Rahil Kachroo and Mohammad Shafi are the four people arrested in connection with Jhatt’s escape, police said.
They said Bhat was the mastermind of the escape of 22-year-old Jhatt alias Abu Hanzalla on February 6.
Bhat’s motorcycle had been used in the escape of the Pakistani militant, police said.
Khan, a resident of Pulwama, is alleged to have provided his car for further transportation of Jhatt out of the city, police said.
Jhatt is at present believed to be in the Pulwama area of South Kashmir and his pictures with other militants including Saddam Paddar went viral on social media on Thursday.
Kachroo was another accomplice who had provided help in Jhatt’s escape after firing bullets at policemen.
Shafi, who is from Narbal on the outskirts of Srinagar city, had posed as a patient to provide cover for the escape.
All the four were arrested after police, based on intelligence inputs, conducted raids at various places in Pulwama.
Khan said that the cops did not retaliate as that could have led to civilian casualties. “If Naveed would have killed one or two people in his efforts to escape, it would be nothing for them. But we are a professional police force and we cannot open fire like that,” he said.
Earlier, officials had said five people have been arrested in connection with Jhatt’s escape.
However, police said a fifth man identified as Hilal of Pulwama who helped in the escape is absconding and believed to be with Jhatt.
Jhatt had managed to escape on Tuesday after at least two other militants attacked the police escort team at SMHS Hospital here, killing two cops.
In a related development, Jammu and Kashmir Home department has suspended Superintendent of Central Jail Hilal Ahmed Rather pending an enquiry, an official order said .
Rather will remain attached to the Director General of Prison’s office till the inquiry is over.
(Pictures by Zargar Zahoor)