A 47-year-old militant, who is only three feet tall, is reported to be behind the recent attacks by the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Kashmir. According to police sources, Noor Mohammad Tantray, a resident of Tral in Pulwama district, has taken over command of the JeM in South Kashmir and is engineering the outfit’s bid to regroup in the Valley.
Tantray, who was arrested in Delhi in 2003 and sentenced to life by a POTA court in 2011, is reported to have jumped parole a few months ago and rejoined militancy.
“Yes, he has joined JeM,” Awantipora SP Muhammad Zahid revealed.
“Our investigations into the recent attacks have revealed that he (Tantray) is playing a pivotal role in the Jaish,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express. “He and another Jaish commander, Mufti Waqas, have been playing a major role in the recent attacks carried out by the outfit.”
According to police sources, Tantray provided logistical support to JeM militants who stormed the District Police Lines in Pulwama in August. Eight security personnel and three militants were killed in that attack. Tantray is also reported to have been involved in the JeM attack on the BSF camp, outside the Srinagar International Airport, on October 3, in which one BSF officer and three militants were killed.
Sources said Tantray was also found to be involved in the grenade attack on State PWD Minister Naeem Akhtar’s cavalcade in Tral on September 21.
Police sources said Tantray was earlier a close aide of Jaish commander Ghazi Baba, who masterminded the 2001 attack on Parliament. After Ghazi Baba was killed, Tantray was arrested from Delhi’s Sadar Bazar on August 31, 2003. The Delhi Police claimed to have recover Rs 19.2 lakh from his possession and accused him of being in touch with JeM militants.
In January 2011, Tantray and four others, including two from Kashmir, were sentenced to life imprisonment by a POTA court in Delhi. After being lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail for some time, he was shifted to Srinagar. Tantray was released on parole in 2015, after which the Jammu and Kashmir High Court extended his parole several times.
However, three months ago, Tantray is reported to have gone underground and rejoined militancy. Police sources said he had rejoined JeM, and was closely coordinating the outfit’s operations with Waqas, a resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan.
“He has a good military mind. He is like Qayoom Najar of South Kashmir,” said a police officer, referring to former Hizbul Mujahideen commander Abdul Qayoom Najar, who was killed in Uri last month. “He also knows the Jaish’s old militant and sympathiser network, and will try to revive that network”.
A police officer, however, said Tantray’s physical features are a disadvantage for him. “He is just three feet tall,” he said. “So he can be easily identified, making his movement difficult.”