The Pakistani LeT man escaped after militants opened fire at a Srinagar hospital Tuesday. His arrest in 2014 had been hailed as a major breakthrough.

New Delhi: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant Naveed Jat alias Abu Hanzullah’s escape from the clutches of the Jammu and Kashmir Police in Srinagar Tuesday is a blow to security agencies in the troubled state.

Naveed escaped after militants opened fire inside the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, where he had been brought along with six other prisoners for a check-up. The prisoners and the policemen escorting them were in the ‘Casualty’ area when the shootout took place, killing head constable Mushtaq Ahmed and constable Babar. Naveed escaped in the melee.

A significant capture

Naveed, son of Mohammad Hanief Jat, resident of Wahadi, Multan, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, was a close aide of LeT commanders Abu Dujana and Abu Qasim – both killed in separate encounters by the Jammu and Kashmir police earlier.

Naveed is accused of killing security personnel. He had infiltrated from Pakistan in 2012 and was active first in north Kashmir and subsequently in south Kashmir.

“Naveed was arrested in south Kashmir’s Kulgam in June 2014. He was involved in the killings of policemen, and there were various cases against him,” Jammu and Kashmir DGP Shesh Paul Vaid told ThePrint. At the time of his arrest, Naveed was LeT’s deputy chief.

His arrest was termed as a “major” breakthrough by the forces in 2014 when he was arrested from a hideout in Sempora village of Kulgam district.

Top police sources said that Naveed operated in the hotbed of militancy in south Kashmir, including Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama. In two incidents out of three involving Naveed, two policemen were killed. He was prosecuted in several courts of the state including two in Jammu.

In a 2014 firing incident in Shopian, five security forces personnel and two civilians were injured. He was also involved in attacks on the court complex in Pulwama twice. Naveed had also killed an assistant sub-inspector in Pulwama, said sources.

Security breach?

Naveed’s escape has raised questions about a possible security lapse, such as why the prisoners were referred for treatment to a civil hospital with “thin” security.

Several versions of the incident circulated as rumours, including one saying that Naveed had snatched a rifle from the escorting policeman and fired to escape. Later, Srinagar DIG Ghulam Hassan Bhat refuted these rumours, underlining that the shots were fired by an external group of militants.

“It was a planned militant attack as armed gunmen shot at policemen accompanying the Pakistani militant,” Bhat said.

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