JAMMU, May 14, 2002: Atleast 30 persons including army personnel, their family members and seven passengers of a Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus were killed and 48 others were injured in the worst ever attack by three ‘fidayeens’ (suicide squads) inside the army quarters at Kalu- chak, about 10 kms from here on Jammu-Pathankote national highway this morning. All three fidayeens, who were wearing army uniforms and were suspected to be the Pakistanis, were shot dead by the troops sent-in to the spot from Kalu Chak Cantonment.
All three fidayeens, who were gunned down by the troops in the family quarters of army at Kaluchak after about three and a half hours gun-fighting this morning, had infiltrated into this side of the border early today and straightway boarded the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus, which was evident from recovery of yesterday’s tickets of a Sialkot cinema hall from their possession.
Death toll could go up as condition of many of the injured was stated to be critical in the Military Hospital, Satwari, where they were admitted after the attack. Injured had sustained bullet and splinter injuries and included mostly women and children of army personnel’s families, putting up in the quarters that were targeted by the terrorists.
Army and police sources told EXCELSIOR that in addition to two cinema hall tickets, some chocolates and dry fruit packets were also recovered from pockets of three fidayeens, who were wearing army uniforms.
Three tickets of the cinema hall were recovered from pocket of a Pakistani dress of one of the terrorists, who had been killed by an army jawan at entrance of the army quarters. According to sources, all three terrorists were wearing casual Pakistani dresses, which they had concealed under the army uniforms.
"Recovery of three tickets indicated that the trio stayed together yesterday also before infiltrating into Indian territory somewhere between Samba and Supwal (the two villages which had a direct route to Sialkot) in wee hours of this morning breaching ‘intensified security arrangements’ on the International Border by the security forces", the sources said.
All three terrorists were wearing army dresses with the badges of Armed Corps on their shoulders. "From hair style to boots, the ‘fidayeens’ looked as army personnel. They had also displayed ranks on their uniforms to ensure that they were not doubted by the bus passengers", they said. While two terrorists had displayed the ranks of Havildar on their uniform, another terrorist had the rank of Naik.
Two fidayeens were wearing name plates of Maninder Singh and Narinder Singh on their uniforms. Name plate of the third fidayeen had been damaged as he was hit by a volley of gun shots on his chest.
Sources said the terrorists were reported to have worn the army uniforms after crossing the border to keep them in good look. The terrorists had crossed the border in Pakistani dresses and worn army uniforms above them. Pakistani dresses of the terrorists were filled with dirt, which too confirmed that they had freshly intruded into Indian side, they added.
Chocolates and dry fruit packets, recovered from the terrorists, also had the markings of Pakistan.
Initially, driver of the HRTC bus Prem Singh, who was among the dead, was reluctant to let the trio board the bus somewhere between Samba to Supwal, one of the survivors Sant Parkash told police officials. The survivor, who hailed from village Jasoor near Kullu, had no knowledge of the village where the terrorists boarded the bus.
However, he confirmed that the bus had just crossed Samba town when the three signaled the bus to stop. A passenger reportedly pleaded with the bus driver to let the ‘army personnel’ board the bus as they might be heading toward their unit, he said.
Sources said all three ‘fidayeens’ were well equipped with arms and explosive devices. The terrorists had tied grenades and other powerful explosive devices with their legs and arms. Besides, they had more grenades and ammunition in the carry bags, which they had brought with them from Pakistan.
Casualty figure of 30 was the highest ever in any fidayeen attack in Jammu region.
As reported by Dailyexcelsior correspondent