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Posted at: Apr 17, 2018, 1:27 AM; last updated: Apr 17, 2018, 1:27 AM (IST)

Post carjacking, police in border districts on alert

Wielding weapons, two in Army fatigues take away Alto
Post carjacking, police in border districts on alert
The Alto car was found abandoned on the outskirts of Fatehpur village in Pathankot district. Tribune photo

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 16

A case of carjacking was reported by a person living near the international border late on Sunday night, following which an alert was sounded in three border police districts — Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Batala.

The IG (Border), Surinder Pal Singh Parmar, confirmed the carjacking and added that a massive hunt had been launched after the questioning of Gujjar Maskin Ali, owner of the car.

Pathankot SSP Vivek Sheel Soni received a call from the Control Room around 11 pm about the incident. After making initial inquiries from the SHO, Narot Jaimal Singh police station, the SSP sensed that the threat was “indeed real” and immediately put his force into action. Within two hours all vital installations in the city, including the road leading to the civil airport, Air Force Station, Mamun Cantonment and the ammunition dump, considered to be one of the biggest Army storage facilities in north India, were secured.

By the time morning walkers hit the streets, the city had been converted into a fortress with the police also establishing a dozen check posts on the strategic Jammu-Pathankot national highway.

The police took Maskin Ali into custody and took him away to an undisclosed destination. At the time of filing of this report, his questioning was still on.

Ali told the police that around 10.45 pm on Sunday night, he was going from Bamial, which is near the international border, to the nearby village of Fatehpur to drop a relative in his Alto car, bearing registration plate PB 35 2833. Near Fatehpur, two persons, wearing Army fatigues and carrying weapons, asked him to stop. When he stopped the car they took away his vehicle.

Later, around 2 am, the car was found abandoned on the outskirts of Fatehpur village. Suspecting that terrorists might have gone in hiding somewhere nearby, the police fired several rounds in the air. The police then widened their search to adjoining areas after nobody retaliated. Scores of Gujjars having their habitations near the zero line were also questioned.

An intelligence source said the threat was real. SSP Soni, too, claimed that “nothing can be ruled out at this stage.”

“I have quizzed Ali. It seems he is speaking the truth,” said the police chief.

After receiving alerts from the Pathankot police in the wee hours, Gurdaspur SSP Harcharan Singh Bhullar personally took over the search operations near the border. LMG-mounted vehicles, equipped with night-vision devices, were also pressed into service at strategic points near the border.

Batala SSP Opinderjit Singh Ghuman, too, confirmed that an alert had been sounded in villages falling under the Dera Baba Nanak police station.

Vehicle found abandoned

Maskin Ali, a Gujjar, told the police that around 10.45 pm on Sunday night, he was going from Bamial, which is near the international border, to the nearby village of Fatehpur to drop a relative in his Alto car, bearing registration plate PB 35 2833. Near Fatehpur, two persons, wearing Army fatigues and carrying weapons, asked him to stop. When he stopped the car they took away his vehicle. Later, around 2 am, the car was found abandoned on the outskirts of Fatehpur village.

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