Lawaypora Encounter: DGP Says, Will Investigate Families’ Claim

Jammu: There is no reason to dispute the version of an army commander that the three “militants” killed in an encounter in Srinagar's outskirts had plans to carry out a "big strike", J-K DGP Dilbag Singh said on Thursday, following claims by families that the slain youths were not involved in militancy.

The Jammu and Kashmir director general of police (DGP) also said that if there is any truth in the statement of the parents of the slain militants, police will act accordingly. "My initial impression of this operation is that the operation has been conducted in the right manner," Singh said.

General Officer Commanding (GoC) Kilo Force Major General H S Sahi, while addressing the media on Wednesday, had reportedly stated that the three militants had plans to carry out a "big strike" on the Srinagar-Baramulla Highway and that they had turned down repeated surrender offers during the encounter.

Police had said that the encounter broke out between the militants and the army in the Lawaypora area on Tuesday evening and ended on Wednesday. While one militant was killed in the early hours of Wednesday, two others were shot dead a few hours later, they had said.

"The GoC is a senior officer. I have no reason to dispute what he has said (about the encounter)," Singh told reporters.

The DGP was replying to a question about the "big strike" statement of the army officer in the backdrop of the police saying that the slain militants were not on the "militant list".

Singh also said, "It is not important that every militant is listed with the police. It is after a chain of process, he is listed."

On Wednesday, a police spokesman had said that though the three killed militants "were not mentioned in our list of militants, yet two of them were hardcore associates of militants (overground workers)" and had added that of the two, one was a relative of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Rayees Kachroo, who was killed in 2017.

He had also said that it is suspected that the third might have joined militant ranks very recently.

However, family members from south Kashmir's Pulwama and Shopian districts, during a protest in Srinagar on Wednesday had claimed that the slain youths had no connection with militancy and that two of them were students.

The slain youths were Athar Mushtaq and Aijaz Maqbool, both students, and Zubair Ahmad was a carpenter, said the families.

On the families' claims, DGP Singh said that "about yesterday’s operation, what you have referred to... parents don't know about the whereabouts of their children. The families of two slain youths claimed that their children had gone to submit forms at a university. I want to ask them what their children were doing at the encounter site if they had gone to submit forms."

"We will look into the statements of the parents. If there is any truth in it, we will act accordingly. My initial impression of this operation is that the operation has been conducted in the right manner," he said.

The youths' families had staged the protest outside the Police Control Room (PCR) in Srinagar, stating that their "wards were not militants but students."

‘225 Militants Killed In J&K In 2020’

DGP also said that Jammu and Kashmir has seen a decrease in militancy incidents, infiltration and civilian killings in 2020, while state forces carried out more than 100 "successful" counter-militancy operations killing 225 militants.

"We undertook over 100 successful operations in J&K. Ninety operations took place in Kashmir and 13 in Jammu. As many as 225 militants were killed -- 207 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu division," Singh said.

He said that among the slain militants, 47 were top commanders belonging to various outfits. "Today, all top commanders of various outfits have been eliminated," he added.

The DGP said 16 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel -- 15 in Kashmir and one in Jammu -- and 44 security personnel -- 42 in Kashmir and two in Jammu -- were killed while fighting militancy this year.

Singh said that police and security agencies have cracked down on overground workers (OGWs) of militant outfits, who throw grenades or work as messengers and couriers.

"As many as 635 OGWs were arrested and 56 out of them were booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA)," he said.

During the year, 299 militants and their associates were arrested and 12 militants surrendered, he said.

The police chief said that 426 weapons, over 9,000 ammunition and magazines, and a huge cache of explosive material were recovered and seized during anti-militancy operations.

There has been a decrease in the number of civilian killings this year. "As many as 38 civilians were killed this year as compared to 44 last year," Singh said.

He, however, said that there has been a slight increase in militant recruitment this year as compared to last year. "But 70 per cent of them have either been eliminated or have left militant outfits and returned. As many as 46 militants have been arrested and 76 have been killed (among new recruits). Their shelf life is very less," the DGP said.

He said that there is a large scale decrease in the level of infiltrations this year. Due to the strong anti-infiltration grid, the infiltration is down, he said.

Singh said that Pakistan is trying to increase the arch of militancy to Jammu region and foment communal trouble here.

"There were a dozen militants active in the Jammu region, the number has reduced to three now. They are in Kishtwar district, we are tracking them," Singh said.

The police chief further said that despite several attempts by Pakistan, cases of infiltration this year is the lowest in the last three-four years.

"So, they (Pakistan) had to rely on local recruits and they tried to supply weapons, explosive materials and cash to them through drones, most of these were foiled," he said.

"The best thing is that the trend of local youths joining militant groups is constantly decreasing," he added. -PTI

 

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