The killing of Abu Qasim, a key Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative and the handler of the Udhampur attack comes as a major relief for security forces. Qasim who was killed by security forces following a gun battle at Kulgam in South Kashmir was probably one of the most lethal handlers the Lashkar had in Kashmir.
Qasim who is aged 27 years hails from Bhawalpur in Pakistan. He moved to Kashmir around 6 to 7 years back and has been in charges of the Lashkar since then. His name has been attached with a host of activities connecting the Lashkar, but his handling of the recent Udhampur attack is what brought him under the radar of the security agencies once again. [Udhampur attack mastermind Abu Qasim killed in encounter]
The importance of killing Abu Qasim:
Abu Qasim alias Abdur Rehman is a self styled commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. He hails from Bhawalpur in Pakistan and is the one who arranged for the logistics, accommodation and food for four Pakistani terrorists who infiltrated into India.
The NIA says that Qasim was also responsible for arranging resources and also identifying the targets. He also arranged for the transport for the terrorists and planned the Udhampur attack. He acted as a bridge between the Pakistan based operatives of the Lashkar and the local players, the NIA says.
Qasim had broken the Lashkar into 5 splinter groups with 20 members each. His job was to plot attacks in Kashmir by using local resources, Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia.
Qasim largely focused on planning attacks on army personnel.
In the year 2013, he had executed a major strike on the Indian army in which 8 soldiers were killed. He had managed to infiltrate several terrorists from Pakistan for this attack. After 2013, there was a lull in his activities and Qasim focused more on building up a strong local network for the Lashkar.
In In some of the intercepts that the security forces and the Intelligence Bureau picked up it showed clearly that Qasim had in 2015 planned a series of attacks on the Indian army. The Udhampur attack was the start of a wave of attacks that Qasim had planned.
During the Udhampur attack, Qasim played a key role and was even present at the time Mohammad Naved was captured. Naved who carried out the attack was captured alive by the security forces with the help of some villagers.
Attempts to capture him alive:
Sources say that there were efforts made to capture Qasim alive. Although his death has come as a major relief, had he been captured alive, he could have provided vital information about the functioning of the Lashkar in Kashmir.
NIA officials say that his death is however not a set back for the investigations. We have captured at least 4 persons connected with the Udhampur attack and they have provided us with vital information relating to the network of the Lashkar in Kashmir.
The NIA says it is confident that the probe into the Udhampur attack will help weaken the Lashkar to a large extent in Kashmir. Moreover, the death of Qasim has dealt a major body blow for the operations of the Lashkar in Kashmir, the NIA also adds.