He was 4 feets and 2 inches tall and walked limping. Noor Mohammed Tantray, the commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed who was killed on Tuesday, stood out from the crowd, but his mental acuity compensated for that disadvantage, authorities said.
Called “death merchant” by a special court in Delhi, it was believed that Tantray was the mastermind behind several terrorist attacks, including the attack on the BSF camp outside the Srinagar airport on October 3 and the cavalcade of the Minister of State Naeem Akhtar in Tral on September 21 this year.
The ending occurred during the night of December 25 and 26 in Samboora, in the district of Pulwama, in southern Kashmir, near his home in Tral.
The killing of the 47-year-old JeM commander, who was on parole, is a “significant blow” to the operations of the terrorist group in the Valley, authorities said.
“We had missed him only for a few minutes in the past and he was sure he would run out of luck soon as his height was his biggest disadvantage.” With each passing day, the search was reduced, “said a senior police officer, involved in the operations, under the condition of anonymity.
Tantray’s lameness also made it difficult for him to disappear into a crowd and the police officers were sure they could isolate him.
After escaping the Aripal meeting, in which three JeM militants were killed, in Tral in April this year, Tantray had been on the radar of the Jammu and Kashmir Special Police Unit.
His efforts to track him down finally paid off on Christmas night when he was trapped in a house and could not escape. His other two accomplices, believed to be foreign militants, managed to flee, an official said.
Tantray, who spent eight years in the Tihar prison, had intensified his activities since his release on parole in 2015.
A close collaborator of commander Jaish Ghazi Baba, who planned the 2001 attack on Parliament, Tantray was arrested at the Delhi Sadar Bazar on August 31, 2003.
He was arrested along with four others and accused of conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks in various parts of the national capital.
The five militants were arrested after a meeting in which two terrorists were killed. In addition to weapons and ammunition, the police also recovered a sum of Rs 19.20 lakh from Tantray.
Then, the special words of Judge RK Gauba of POTA (Prevention of Terrorism) proved to be prophetic when Tantray emerged as the most wanted militant in the Kashmir Valley after his release from prison, an official said.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 in the case and transferred to the Srinagar Central Prison in 2015 before being placed on probation. His parole was extended by the Supreme Court of Jammu and Kashmir in the same year.
When sentenced along with others under the strict anti-terrorism law in 2011, the judge said that the challenge posed by terrorism should be faced “head-on by a strategy of multiple extensions.”
“The Indian war against terrorism must be carried out not only by security measures but also by all organs of the state, including the judiciary, which must share the responsibility of dealing with such elements with an iron fist”, He said.
In describing the five “merchants of death”, the court had said that “the enemy infantrymen of India and bent on sabotaging peace and tranquility here, besides representing a serious threat to their unity, sovereignty and integrity , they must be neutralized. ” .
The “merchants of death” had to be locked up for the rest of their lives “… so that they are properly defrauded and dulled so that they no longer serve the enemy,” the judge had said in his seven-page order.
The Tantray terror graphic validated the judge’s words, an official said.
It is believed that Tantray provided logistical support to JeM militants who assaulted the police lines in Pulwama in August of this year. Eight members of the security staff and three militants died in that attack.
He was allegedly involved in the JeM attack at the BSF camp outside the Srinagar International Airport on October 3, in which a BSF officer and three militants were killed.
It was also discovered that Tantray was involved in the grenade attack on the parade of National Police Minister Naeem Akhtar in Tral on September 21.