Red Alert In J&K On PM Modi’s Visit

Venue Placed Under Siege; Frisking Intensified Along Highways, Vigil Up Along Border

Jammu- A day after a fierce gunfight between militants and security forces here, a thick security blanket has been thrown across Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Palli Panchayat in Samba district on Sunday, officials said.

A red alert has been sounded across J&K following the encounter near Sunjwan army camp on the outskirts of the city which averted a major attack with the gunning down of two newly infiltrated militants armed with suicide vests and large quantity of arms and ammunition.

A Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officer was also killed and nine others including two policemen were injured as security forces engaged the militants after they attacked a bus carrying the paramilitary personnel in the early hours of Friday.

Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh had said the two militants were part of a suicide squad of Pakistan-based JeM and their infiltration could be a "big conspiracy" to sabotage the prime minister's visit to Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj day on Sunday.

Palli panchayat, 17 kms from Jammu city, was virtually sealed with local police and paramilitary personnel including Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deployed in strength to keep a strict vigil, the officials said.

They said the venue, which is just three kilometres from the Jammu-Pathankot highway, has been made out of bounds for the general public as part of the security arrangements for the Prime Minister's public rally his first after the abrogation of special status to J&K under Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state in August 2019.

Arrangements for over one lakh people including over 30,000 panchayat members have been made at the venue of the public meeting, the officials said.

"The encounter took place two days ahead of the prime minister's visit. It is part of a big conspiracy to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Jammu and it could be a big conspiracy to sabotage the visit," the DGP had said at the end of the gunfight, adding "it is good that we got timely inputs and the operation was concluded successfully."

On Saturday, the joint security parties were seen patrolling the entire stretch from Bari Brahmana along the highway to Palli chowk which was also decorated with large hoarding to welcome the Prime Minister and also announce various projects and industrial investments to be inaugurated by him.

Additional joint security check points with reinforcements have come up at various places leading to the venue of the function besides other places including district headquarters and vital installations to scuttle any attempt by the militants to carry out any attack, the officials said.

The commuters on highways and peripheral roads are also being thoroughly checked and frisked, the officials said, adding the border security grid and highway grid have also been strengthened in the wake of Friday's encounter in Jammu city.

In additional to the multi-tier security arrangements, the officials said some high-end surveillance equipment have been inducted into security setup to ensure fool proof security.

Traffic police Jammu has already issued an advisory in connection with the prime minister's visit, announcing certain restrictions and route plans for the public to reach the venue.

Heavy load carriers including wheat cutting machines and load carriers were asked not to play on April 24 on the national highway (Jammu-Pathankot) as well as ring roads and adjoining areas of the venue, the advisory said.

The traffic police also declared no parking zones' a certain stretch of the highway near Bari Brahmana and Palli to Ratnal Chowk.

The prime minister is expected to launch industrial investments worth Rs 70,000 crore and inaugurate and lay foundation of some developmental projects including two power projects during his first public meeting in Jammu region after August 2019 development.

However, Modi had earlier celebrated Diwali with Army jawans on October 27, 2019 in Rajouri and on November 3, 2021 in Nowshera sector in Jammu division.

NIA Chief Reviews PM’s Security

Meanwhile NIA chief Kuldiep Singh on Saturday visited Jammu's Sunjwan area where two suicide bombers of banned Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) were killed in a fierce gunfight with security forces ahead of the prime minister's visit, officials said.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief, who reached Jammu on Friday evening, was accompanied by Inspector General of CRPF, Jammu sector, P S Ranpise.

Singh, who is also the director general of the Central Reserve Police Force, was briefed about the gun battle by CRPF officers, including Commandant of 38th Battalion Dhirendra Verma, the officials said.

The NIA director general also visited the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's public rally at Palli panchayat in Samba district and reviewed the security situation, they said.

Besides the two militants, a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officer died in the gunfight that took place near an Army camp in Sunjwan on Friday. Nine security personnel were also injured as forces engaged the militants after they attacked a bus carrying CISF personnel.

"Yes, a major attack was thwarted (by security forces)," Singh said after receiving the briefing about the encounter.

Asked whether the NIA will take over the case, he said, "It will depend... we will see, nothing can be said at the moment."

On the security arrangements for the prime minister's visit, he said all the necessary arrangements will be made.

Later, the officials said, Singh visited Palli panchayat and was briefed by senior officers about the security arrangements there.

Special teams of the NIA and the State Investigation Agency (SIA) had visited the encounter site on Friday evening.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh had said the two slain militants were part of a suicide squad of Pakistan-based JeM and their infiltration could be a "big conspiracy" to sabotage the prime minister's visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

The prime minister will visit Palli village, 17 km from here, on National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24. He is also scheduled to address a gathering there.

According to officials, a multi-tier security setup has been put in place for Modi's visit.

An alert has been sounded along the border and a high degree of vigilance is being maintained at vital installations in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the visit, officials said on Friday.

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