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Security personnel stand guard during a search operation after an LeT militant escaped from the police custody with the assailants after Lashkar-e-Taiba militants attacked SMHS hospital, in Srinagar on 6 February.

Review Prison Security, Deploy CRPF in Jails: MHA Tells J&K Govt

Taking serious note of the escape of a jailed Pakistani terrorist from SMHS hospital complex in Srinagar, the Centre, on 9 February, asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to fully review security measures in jails and during transportation of inmates.

The ministry also asked the state government to ensure that no such incident takes place in future and deploy CRPF in prison security.

A senior home ministry official told PTI that the state government has also issued instructions to immediately review security of hardened terrorists who are lodged in Srinagar central jail and they are expected to be moved out to Jammu, Uddhampur, Leh jails and kept in isolation.

The home ministry has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to fix responsibility for lapses and also to examine why a high-security prisoner was sent to the OPD of a hospital.

The move came following a high-level meeting which was convened after an attack on the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital complex, which left two policemen dead and led to a terrorist, Naveed Jhutt alias Abu Hanzulla, escaping from Srinagar’s Central Jail on 6 February, PTI reported.

He fled from a hospital in the city after some militants shot and killed two policemen accompanying him. Jatt was taken to the hospital for medical checkup.

Also Read: Policeman killed in Srinagar militant attack

4 Nabbed, Munir Khan Replaced as Kashmir Range IG

Taking action on the jailbreak, Munir Khan was replaced by Swayam Prakash Pani as Inspector General of Police in the Kashmir range after S K Mishra, Director General (Prisons) in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) was shunted out on Thursday, 8 February.

According to Kashmir Reader, Khan has been appointed as ADGP security and home guards. Mishra will now be replaced by Dilbag Singh according to a J&K government order.

Earlier on Thursday, superintendent of Srinagar’s Central Jail Hilal Ahmad Rather was also sacked.

Four of the five men involved in the attack and in freeing Naveed alias Abu Hanzulla were arrested earlier on Thursday. The arrest came after the investigation by a Special Investigation Team was formed.

Also Read: Did LeT Leader Escape With Inside Help from Srinagar Central Jail?

Before being transferred, Munir Khan, on Thursday, addressed a press conference and said:

Of the five who carried out the attack, four men have been arrested. Shakil Ahmed Bhat and Tika Khan, both militants who are residents of Kakpora, Pulwama. The other two, Syed Tajamul and Mohammadd Shafi Wani, who are suspected overground workers. One militant named Hilal, who is from Pulwama, escaped with Naveed.

Photos of Hanzulla, reportedly taken after he escaped and reached Hizbul militants, were shared by Asia News Network.

While refusing to confirm details, ADGP Munir Khan did say that the photos proved that Hanzulla had met with Hizbul forces after his escape.

A photo of Hanzulla reportedly taken after his escape.

A video allegedly taken just moments ahead of the attack, from a CCTV camera outside the hospital, was shared by DNA news among other Twitter users

How Did the Attack Occur?

A police team took six prisoners, including Jhutt, to the hospital for treatment on 5 February, DIG (Central Kashmir) Ghulam Hasan Bhat, who visited the scene of the attack said.

Photo of prisoner Naveed Jhutt, alias Abu Hanzalla, who escaped after terrorists opened fire at a police protection party at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital in Srinagar.
On the day of the incident, the five attackers came to Srinagar on the day of the incident, with a motorcycle and a car. Both vehicles have now been recovered and seized. Two of them opened fire at the police when Hanzulla was brought to the hospital.
Munir Khan, ADGP, J&K

According to eyewitnesses who corroborated the statement, two militants opened fire as soon as Jhutt, along with five other prisoners and the police team, got off the vehicle outside the Out Patient Department of the 70-year-old hospital.

Head constable Mushtaq Ahmad and Babar Ahmad were killed in the attack.

The terrorists managed to escape into the narrow lanes and bylanes of downtown Srinagar. Mohammed Naveed Jhutt, a 22-year-old LeT militant from Pakistan, who was caught in Kulgam in south Kashmir in 2014, managed to escape with the assailants.
Police statement

Hizbul Claimed Responsibility

According to The Indian Express, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo released an audio clip, where he is heard saying, “Jhutt had reached a safe destination”.

Police speculate that Jhutt could have reached south Kashmir, which is where Naikoo is based in. Naikoo, in his audio clip, also says that he regrets the death of the two Kashmiri policemen, reported Hindustan Times.

When we saw the children of the two policemen, we were heartbroken because we don’t want to kill any Kashmiri, but people who are aligning with India are forcing us to kill them.

Meanwhile, an alleged LeT spokesperson released a WhatsApp message to the local media, where he stated that the escape operation was a coordinated effort between various outfits.

Who is Naveed Jhutt, the Escaped Prisoner?

Jhutt, a school dropout from Borevella district of Multan in Pakistan’s Punjab, is believed to be involved in multiple attacks. These include an attack on the Army in Hyderpora in the city, an attack on the Silver Star Hotel along the national highway outside Srinagar and three attacks on police and CRPF camps in south Kashmir. He was arrested on 26 August 2014.

The militant had obtained sophisticated training and was good at handling equipment like compasses, GPS, wireless sets, and mobile phones installed with Skype software, an official said.

According to CNN-News18, the LeT district commander was arrested in a joint operation by the police, Rashtriya Rifles, and the CRPF.

News18 also reported that Naveed, who was a close associate of the LeT Chiefs Abu Qasim and Abu Dujana, had been operating in the area for two years.

Forces also recovered an AK-47 rifle, two AK-47 magazines, and 60 AK-47 rounds when they arrested him, reported News18.

Jammu and Kashmir police wanted to shift Jhutt along with five other prisoners from Srinagar jail to other high security jails outside the Valley but were disallowed from doing so by the local courts.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

(This story has been updated)

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