SRINAGAR – A CRPF trooper and two local militants were killed on Wednesday while another alleged militant was arrested after a brief shootout in Lawaypora area of the city outskirts.
The shootout took place on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway near Tahira Khanam’s Paramedical College, Lawaypora around 11:45 this morning when a joint team of CRPF and police intercepted a group of three militants travelling on a two-wheeler, eyewitnesses told Kashmir Observer. One of the militants, witnesses said took out a pistol and fired at a CRPF trooper identified as Ramesh Rajan of 73 Battalion killing him on the spot.
“In the brief exchange of fire, two militants were killed while another was arrested in an injured condition. He is being treated at the hospital,” Special Director General (ADG) CRPF Zulfikar Hassan said while addressing a joint presser with Director General of Police (DGP) J&K Dilbagh Singh at Police Control Room Srinagar here.
Revealing more details of the shootout, Hassan said that CRPF and police had erected checkpoints at different places along the Srinagar-Parimpora stretch after receiving inputs.
“Three men travelling on a two-wheeler without helmets were asked to stop. One of the men got down and fired at the CRPF man in his head. Alert parties of CRPF and police retaliated the fire killing two militants and arresting another in injured condition,” Hassan said.
However, the family of the injured youth contested Hassan’s claim and said that their son was not a militant but a shopkeeper.
SDG CRPF said that “significant recoveries” were made from the shootout spot including grenades. He also congratulated his troopers for dealing with militants in a professional manner since the area witnesses’ huge public and private traffic.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar identified the slain militants as Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Zia-ur-Rehman from Budgam and Khateeb Das of Hizbul Mujahideen from Bijbehara. Dass, police said was brother-in-law of ISJK militant Mugees Mir of Parimpora who was earlier killed in an encounter.
The IGP further said that third militant who was captured alive in an injured condition was identified as Omar Fayaz who was affiliated with ISJK, a claim strongly contested by the family.
“Zia-ur-Rehman was involved in the weapon loot incident in year 2018 at the official residence of Congress leader Muzaffar Parray,” the IGP said, adding “Dass was associated with Hizbul Mujahideen and was involved in attacks in the areas of south Kashmir. Several cases were registered against him,”
When asked about the number of militants killed this year so far, DGP Singh said as many as 20 militants of different outfits were killed by security forces in the encounters.
“As many as 20 militants of different outfits have been killed in encounters, including the one in Jammu, during the last about a month. Three security force personnel were killed in the exchange of fire during this time. Many modules have also been busted during this time,” he said.
Singh expressed optimism that the summer this year in the Valley will be peaceful.
“We are hopeful that the situation will remain peaceful,” he said.
Singh was responding to a question about any possibility of disturbance during the summer in Kashmir.
He referred to successful anti-militancy operations in January in the valley and Jammu.
“We have busted several modules of terrorists last month but the grenade attack at Lal Chowk shows that there are some remnants. But the security forces are alert and foiling their plans,” Singh said.
“Police have got some clues about those who carried out the grenade attack at Lal Chowk on Sunday “and we will soon get to him”.
On Sunday, militants hurled a grenade on CRPF personnel near Pratap Park in busy Lal Chowk area of the city, injuring two CRPF troopers and seven civilians.
Injured youth’s family contest police claim
The family members of Omar Fayaz, who was injured in a shootout in the city outskirts on Wednesday, contested police claim saying the youth is a shopkeeper and is not even remotely connected with militancy.
“He isn’t a militant but a civilian. He was hit by a stray bullet at his shop nearly half-a-kilometer away from the encounter spot. Fayaz’s Aunt told Kashmir Observer at the SMHS hospital here.
Fayaz’s aunt, who was present at her house at Lawaypora which is just few meters away from the shop run by her nephew, said “I heard a few bullet sounds. I went outside and saw Fayaz shouting auntie I am hit by a bullet and I am dying. We were stopped at Shalteng and despite repeated requests, we were allowed to proceed,” she said amid tears.
She alleged that police claims that her nephew was taken to the hospital was a white life.
Fayaz’s uncle Abdur Rashid Thakur said that his nephew runs a poultry shop in the area and he was at his shop when hit by a bullet.
“Fayaz’s mother is a patient and his father was recently operated for his heart ailment,” said Thakur, adding, that there are blood marks of his nephew still left at his shop.
“Police should correct the facts and visit the shop once.” Thakur said.
The government forces, he said stopped the family at Shalteng due to which Fayaz lost a lot of blood.
“We arranged 18 points of blood for him so far. May God save him,” he said.
Fayaz is battling for his life at SMHS hospital. He was hit by a bullet and has operated, his conditions according to doctors is said to be critical.
“Bullet hit his chest and he has been operated. We have put him on ventilator and his condition is critical,” Medical Superintendent, SMHS Dr. Nazir Chaudhary told Kashmir Observer.
However, the police in a statement issued in the evening maintained that Fayaz was an Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) militant.
Earlier, DGP Dilbagh Singh at a press conference had claimed that Fayaz was injured in shootout and later arrested. He too had claimed that the injured youth was associated with ISJK.