| Omar Abdullah at a news conference in Srinagar after the attack in Anantnag. (PTI)
Srinagar, Oct. 24: Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar had a narrow escape today when an improvised explosive device was triggered just paces from them, leaving a cloud hanging over the efficacy of the high frequency jammer ' an integral part of every Z-plus security retinue ' that should have disabled it.
Before the smoke had cleared after the explosion, militants strafed the convoy with automatic gunfire near a graveyard at Sarnal in Anantnag, 65 km from here in south Kashmir.
'I saw a plume of dust and debris going up. The commandos escorting the NC leaders took position behind bulletproof cars and fired in the air,' said Mohammad Nissar, a National Conference leader travelling in the convoy.
Seven passersby were injured, three of whom have been referred to Srinagar for treatment.
The Abdullahs were unhurt though the IED went off a few feet from them as they disembarked to enter the graveyard around 11.45 am with other senior leaders of the National Conference to attend the Fateha Khawani ' memorial prayer ' of slain former minister Safdar Ali Baig. Baig was gunned down on Thursday.
The brunt of the blast was borne by the multi-crore anti-sabotage vehicle carrying the hi-tech jammer at the head of the convoy.
'I had just stepped out of my car. The earth shook under our feet. It was a deadly explosion and the worst thing is that the high frequency mobile jammer was destroyed in the blast. I have doubts about its efficiency to jam radio signals because the IED, as it looks, was triggered by a remote-controlled device,' National Conference president Omar Abdullah said after returning to Srinagar.
Asked if the jammer of the Abdullahs' convoy had failed, a senior police official said 'it seems so and of late, militants have been using IEDs of higher decibel frequency level to avoid detection'.
This is a sign that militants have possibly upgraded their equipment ' bringing in higher frequency detonators ' to fox the security forces.
The use of such a detonator was first seen at Qazigund in May this year, when over 30 BSF personnel and their family members were killed in a blast triggered by an IED that a jammer could not disable.
On his return, Omar alleged that the local administration had not made adequate security arrangements.
'No senior police officer was present at Sarnal. Even the district police chief, Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, was mysteriously absent as were other district officers. That is surprising. I doubt they had carried out anti-sabotage checks,' he said.
Omar accused chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of the rival People's Democratic Party of trying 'to eliminate the NC top leadership politically and physically'.
'The government is playing with our lives. New Delhi must open its eyes to the situation here,' he said, demanding a probe by a senior central official. State police chief Gopal Sharma said they have ordered an inquiry, to be headed by the additional director-general of the CID, to find out any possible lapse in sanitisation of the area and why the jammer could not obstruct the IED.