Srinagar: The Inspector General of Police for Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, on Monday said that four Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in a nocturnal gunfight at Imamsahib area of Shopian in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. He said with the killing of the four militants, 19 militants including two top commanders were killed since January this year.
Addressing a press conference at Police Control Room in Srinagar, the IGP Kashmir said that acting on a tip-off, joint teams of army, police and CRPF laid a siege at Imamsahib area of Shopian. “When the suspected house was zeroed in, the militants fired indiscriminately, triggering a gunfight. We brought family members of the trapped militants and even at 2 am, repeated offers for surrender were made. The militants turned down the offer and fired at forces in which one soldier sustained a bullet injury,” the Kashmir police chief said.
He said that in the ensuing gunfight, four militants were killed. “Some reports suggested that they belong to The Resistance Front (TRF) but, for us, TRF and Lashkar-e-Mustafa are fake names and are offshoots of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad,” the IGP said.
“All four slain militants belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba and have been identified as Rayees Ahmed, who was active since October last year; Amir Mir, who joined militancy in February this year; Raqib Malik, who picked up arms in December last year, and Aftab Wani, who joined militancy in November last year.”
He said this year, so far, nine gunfights have taken place of which only one was witnessed in North Kashmir. “In nine encounters, 19 militants were killed of which nine were killed in Shopian district alone. Among the slain were two top commanders that include Gani Khawja from North Kashmir and Sajad Afghani from South Kashmir,” the IGP said.
He said that this year, so far, 18 youth joined militancy of which five were killed and three arrested while the rest are still active. “Those active are being reached out and are being urged to return to the mainstream,” the IGP Kashmir said.
He said that Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is being followed that entails offering surrender to local militants even during live encounters. “Security forces are dealing with the anti-militancy operations professionally,” the IGP said. “In all these encounters, no civilian was killed. We lost four security forces personnel including a solider, a cop in Budgam and two policemen in Barzulla, Srinagar.” He said that in today’s encounter a soldier was injured, who is stable.
Present on the occasion, General officer commanding (GoC) Victor Force, Rashim Bali, said that Army’s 44 RR reached out to the parents and even to the wife and 4-year-old son of a militant, Raqib. “But they refused to surrender. This is why the operation got delayed, otherwise, it wouldn’t have lasted even for half an hour,” the GoC said. “We even brought brother-in-law of Raqib to the encounter site but still he didn’t surrender.”
The GoC reiterated that the army is ready to facilitate the surrender by local boys holding guns even at the last minute. “Our one soldier received bullet injury in a bid to try whether the militants may surrender,” he said.
Replying to a query that residential houses are getting damaged in encounters, he said that government forces are working professionally and at times houses where militants are hiding catch fire due to congested localities. “Recently, militants were caught in a concrete house that was connected with two more houses. They shifted from one house to another. In some cases, militants themselves torch the houses in a bid to flee,” the GoC said. (KNO)