MUZAFFARABAD, May 30 The Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab police are most likely to launch a joint operation against hardened criminals terrorising Bhimber and its neighbouring Gujrat district on their respective sides, an official said.

“After perpetrating heinous crimes on our side, the felons flee to the Punjab province to escape arrest and same is the situation on the other side and, therefore, we have decided to jointly launch a crackdown,” SP Bhimber Chaudhry Munir Hussain told Dawn.

Bhimber, the southernmost district of AJK, shares a 70-kilometre-long border with the Punjab. AJK President Raja Zulqarnain Khan and two members of AJK cabinet - Chaudhry Anwaarul Haq and Ali Shan Soni - come from this district.

On Thursday, an AJK minister was confronted with an unpleasant incident in Bhimber district shortly after the arrest of three hardened criminals from Ghora Lilyan village by the Punjab police with the help of their counterparts in AJK. The accused persons were wanted by the Punjab police in connection with various heinous crimes, including murders.

Raja Mohammad Siddique, minister for home and civil defence, was returning to Mirpur from a function in Bhimber along with a police escort when a group of criminals, accompanied by women, intercepted his vehicle near Pothi village.

The attackers, led by Nazim alias Maanra, wanted to take revenge on the AJK police for facilitating the arrest of their three colleagues, including Nazim's brother Imtiaz alias Lahoria.

According to SP Bhimber, the protestors mistook the police escort as the vehicle of Punjab police carrying the arrested criminals. However, they fled from the scene upon coming to know the actual position, he said, adding the minister was immediately evacuated to the residence of the minister for physical planning and housing.

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