Carrying a cash reward of Rs 20 lakh on his head, Abu Qasim was active in Kashmir from past five years and was handling almost all the operations of militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba. Recently, soon after the Udhmapur attack, National Investigating Agency had pasted posters in South Kashmirs Pulwama district declaring a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for those who will provide inputs about him.
IGP Kashmir SJ Gillani, who was flanked by DIG Central Kashmir, addressed a press conference announcing the death of Qasim.
He said Qasim was involved in and masterminded number of attacks, including the one on army at Hyderpora here in 2013 that left 8 soldiers dead and another one on BSF at Samroli in Udhampur along Srinagar-Jammu highway that saw death of two BSF men.
Qasim, a resident of Bahawalpur in Multan city of Pakistan took over the reins of LeT after the death of Abdullah Uni, who was killed in Sopore town. Police sources said Qasim was operating around Srinagar upto 2012 and after the death of another LeT commander, Rehman Bhai, he moved to south Kashmir and revived militancy in the region.
Police said Qasim was also involved in the killing of top counterinsurgency officer and Sub-Inspector, Altaf Ahmad alias Altaf Laptop when the latter was chasing him at Bandipora early this month. The killing of the top cop was described as a major setback to the counter-insurgency grid of the Jammu and Kashmir police.
A police spokesman said that Qasim directed the killing of SHO Chadoora in 2013, was involved in the killing of several BSF, CRPF and policemen and also former SKIMS Soura director, Dr Jalal.
On the directions of the said militant commander, cadres of LeT outfit were involved in killing of Ex-Director of SKIMS Soura Srinagar, Dr. Jalaludin along with his PSO in year 2013. The said militant commander was involved in an attack on BSF bus which took place near Kadlabal, Pampore, injuring 6 personnel including a Deputy Commandant.
On the directions of the said militant commander, cadres of LeT carried attack on Police party at Galander Pampore in which 2 constables of JKAP 11th Battalion got killed and they snatched an AK-47 rifle, the spokesman said.
He continued: On the directions of the said commander, the cadres of LeT are involved in killing of SHO police station Chadoora in year 2013. On the directions of the said commander, cadres of LeT outfit killed 2 CRPF personnel in year 2013. The said militant commander was involved in firing at Batapora Tokuna on 04/11/2014, adding: On the directions of the said commander, cadres of LeT killed two SPOs at Court Complex Pulwama in year 2014.
The spokesman further said that Abu Qasim was involved in killing of one policeman and one army man at Qaisar Mullah in Chadoora area of Budgam district.
Abu Qasim had so far escaped nearly a dozen cordons of army and police, a security official said. After the attack at Udhampur and capture of militant Naved, the police, army and NIA had started massive operations to nab the Abu Qasim. It was learnt that Qasim, after multiple raids, encounters and arrests in south Kashmir, had moved to Bandipore in north Kashmir.
He had now managed to engage forces at Bandipore this month and cleverly shifted back to his old base. But, this time he was caught, the security official said.
This week alone, forces managed to kill 5 militants in south Kashmir including Qasim. A defence spokesman meanwhile said: Relentless information based operations by the security forces which have resulted in elimination of 18 militants including three top commanders over the last two months alone, have struck a significant blow to the militants.
Confirming the death of Qasim, LeT paid tributes to their slain Kashmir chief and vowed to carry on the struggle for freedom.
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