A high alert was sounded in Punjab’s Pathankot and J&K’s Kathua after four men commandeered a taxi at gunpoint near Madhopur. The four men hired the taxi, a silver coloured Innova with registration number JK02AW-0922, from Jammu railway station on Tuesday night.
The railway station taxi union vice-president Rajvinder Singh said, “The taxi was booked in the name of Major Sarvjeet Singh and was Pathankot-bound. Our CCTV footage shows there were four people and one among them was wearing a monkey cap.”
The four had conducted a recce before hiring the cab and had paid an advance of Rs 3,550, Singh added. The occupants of the car stopped for dinner at Kathua, Singh said, quoting the driver Raj Kumar, who had a narrow escape. “At Lakhanpur toll post, the four occupants told the staff that they were from the Army and hence exempted from paying toll tax,” Singh added.
“When the car reached Madhopur, the four men threatened Kumar at gun point with one of the occupants saying he should be killed,” added Singh. But, they finally let him go and drove away in the car.
The driver approached a nearby police post and was taken to Sujanpur police station a few kilometres away.
Kumar told Singh that the four men were talking in a Punjabi dialect, which is spoken in Pakistan’s Punjab.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer in Kathua said they were in constant touch with their Pathankot counterparts and a hunt was on to trace the vehicle and arrest the four men.
The incident brings back memories of the 2016 attack on Pathankot Air Base, which was carried out by terrorists who had hijacked a taxi and then a vehicle from a superintendent of Punjab Police. Ten people died in the 12 hour-long operation that killed all the heavily-armed terrorists who were equipped with two GPS devices and night vision devices.