Kashmir Age

Days before PM Modi’s Udhampur visit, AK-47 snatched from cop

Days before PM Modi’s Udhampur visit, AK-47 snatched from cop
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Two suspects have been arrested and a motorbike has been seized

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Security personnel conduct a search operation in Jammu on Sunday. (Source: PTI Photo)Jammu and Kashmir police have launched a massive hunt to nab suspected militants who escaped after snatching an AK-47 rifle from a police constable a week before PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Udhampur district. Modi is expected to be in Udhampur on April 2 to open the Chenani-Nashri road tunnel. The tunnel, which is reportedly the longest in the country, has been built at a cost of Rs 3,720 crore. It will reduce distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 31km and travel time between the two capital cities by two hours. The gun of the police officer was snatched by the militants on Saturday night at the Tawi bridge.

Two suspects have been arrested and a motorbike has been seized. Two other militants are reportedly untraceable as is the rifle. The arrested suspects have been identified as Masroor Ahmad and Shahid, residents of Shopian, police sources said. Masroor was arrested on Saturday night and Shahid on Sunday. Their accomplices, identified as Asif and Arif, are also suspected to be from Shopian. The four reportedly came to Jammu four days ago.

Identifying the constable from whom the militants snatched the rifle as Mohammad Hanief, 50, police sources said that he was deployed as a personal security officer (PSO) of Anjuman Minhaje Rasool (S) chairman Maulana Syed Athar Dehlavi, who reached Jammu on Saturday evening. After Dehlavi went to his room in a state guest house around 9.30pm, the constable had gone towards Bikram Chowk on foot. Since he is hospitalised, it is yet to be known where he was headed — police lines near Bikram Chowk or his home at Belicharana.

When Hanief reached near Tawi bridge around 10.30pm, the suspects reportedly hit him with a wooden rod on the head. The assailants also threw chilli powder in his eyes and fled after snatching his rifle. While senior police officers were tightlipped, sources said what was intriguing was what the constable had been doing near Tawi bridge with a service weapon when he was supposed to remain with Dehlavi at the guesthouse. Moreover, how the suspects appeared prepared to snatch the weapon and seemed to know he would be at that location is unclear.

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