Srinagar: Two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commanders were killed in an overnight encounter with government forces in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, police said.
Based on specific information about the presence of militants in Sirhama area of the south Kashmir district, state forces launched a cordon and search operation on Thursday evening, a police officer said.
He said the search operation turned into an encounter after the militants fired upon the forces, who retaliated.
A tight cordon was maintained throughout the night to prevent the two militants from escaping. They were killed in the exchange of fire this morning, the officer said.
Incriminating materials, including arms and ammunition, were recovered from the encounter site, he said.
Addressing a press conference here, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the two militants were Lashkar commanders.
“One of the militants has been identified as Abu Rehan from Pakistan, who was active since March 2019. The second one has been identified as Adil Rashid Bhat, who was also a Lashkar commander,” he said.
“Bhat was involved in an attack on two policemen at Nowgam on August 14,” the IGP said, adding that he had decamped with an INSAS rifle which was recovered from the encounter site.
The killing of the two militants is a huge success for the forces, he said.
Kumar said LeT militants were also behind the killing of Bhupinder Singh, Block Development Council chairman, Khag, in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Singh was shot dead by militants on Wednesday evening.
After touring his area, Singh dropped his two personal security officers (PSOs) at Khag police station and left for his home, the IGP said.
“He then went to his village, about 10 to 12 kilometres from there, in his private car without informing the police. We have suspended the two PSOs,” he said.
“Investigations are on and two suspects have been called. SP Budgam is himself investigating the matter. Perhaps the militants had known that he was coming home. We have taken all the details and will solve this case soon,” Kumar said.
Prima facie, from his call and location details, names of two Lashkar militants have come up LeT commander Yousuf Kandroo and Abrar from Narbal, he said.
On the killing of an assistant sub-inspector of the Central Reserve Police Force in Wadipora, Budgam, Kumar said the attack was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as M-4 cartridges were found at the spot.
“M-4 is usually used by JeM militants,” he said.
Responding to a question, Kumar said 170 to 200 militants are active in Kashmir.
On the alleged custodial death of a man, Irfan Ahmad Dar, in Sopore area of Baramulla last week, the IGP said the matter is being investigated even as a magisterial inquiry is on.
He said two policemen have been suspended because Dar had fled from their custody.
Protests erupted in north Kashmir’s Sopore town after Dar (23) allegedly died in police custody on Tuesday.
While the police claim Dar was an overground worker and his body was found after he escaped from custody, his family claims it was a “murder in custody”.
Asked about the recent spike in militant attacks, Kumar said Pakistan is trying to create a “fear psychosis” by asking militants to carry out killings of innocent people.
For the last few months, especially since March, Pakistan has been instigating a lot through digital media and sending arms and ammunition through drones or manually, he said.
“We should not be worried about such incidents,” the IGP said.
When there is some action by militants, there is a proactive action from the side of security forces as well, he said.
On the hit list released by The Resistance Front (TRF), a new militant outfit, comprising names of police officers, activists and others, Kumar said the police will conduct a security review of those named in it.
“The TRF is not a real organisation, but a virtual one. It is an offshoot of the LeT. The police will undertake a security review of all the people mentioned in the list prepared by the TRF,” he said.
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