Srinagar- In the first major encounter between militants and armed forces in the year 2021, three Hizbul Mujahideen members were killed in Tral town of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, police said on Friday.
Addressing a news conference here on Friday, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said that on Thursday night Awantipora police received information about the presence of militants in Mandoora village of Tral following which the village was put under cordon by the joint team of police, army and the CRPF.
“The search operation was started on Friday afternoon and it was confirmed that three militants were hiding in a house. As part of the SOPs, the militants were offered to surrender. However, they lobbed grenades from the house and opened fire at the joint team,” Kumar said.
He said in the ensuing encounter, three local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed and an AK 47 rifle, two pistols and four grenades were recovered from the encounter site.
“One of them had joined militant ranks in August last year, while two had taken up arms on January 1,” IGP Kashmir said. He identified the trio as Arif Bashir of Mandoora, Waris Hassan of Naibugh and Syed Asif ul-Haq of Noorpora.
Kumar said that among the three militants, Arif Bashir was involved in the January 2 grenade attack on an SSB bunker in Tral town in which a CRPF man and eight civilians were injured.
“We had identified him shortly after the grenade attack,” he said.
Replying to a question about the first encounter of the year, Kumar said that the modus operandi of police in 2021 will be focussed to ensure surrender of militants.
“As you may have seen, in Bandipora, Manzoor, a local militant was intercepted at a checkpoint by our party. He was given ample opportunity to surrender. He raised his hands and surrendered. We recovered five grenades and a pistol from him,” Kumar said.
“We made an effort to make him surrender because it not only helps us extract information but also persuades others to surrender,” he added.
The IGP further said that police will make every effort to newly joined local militants to lay down their arms. He said the police will also seek help from the parents of the militants to ensure their surrender.
“Sometimes, we don’t know the parents of the local militants caught in the cordon. In around 80 percent cases, we get to know the details of parents of the hiding militants and we reach them out,” he said.
When asked about Wednesday’s IED blast in Kulgam in which a soldier was killed and three others injured, Kumar said that Jaish-e-Muhammad militant Mufti Altaf from Dooru and a foreign militant were involved in it.
“We will sooner arrest or neutralize them,” he added.
Responding to another question, IGP Kashmir said that Pakistan tries to instigate Kashmiri youth and lure them towards militancy by using online portals and websites.
“To counter it, we will soon come up with an online portal where we will hold interactive sessions with parents and the misguided youth. Online counselling sessions will also held on the portal and it will be a useful tool to de-radicalize the youth,” Kumar said, while urging parents to keep a watch on their wards.
Regarding Lawaypora ‘encounter’, he said that whatever the families have said has turned out to be ‘wrong’
“They said the trio did not know each other but what transpired through investigation is that all three of them boarded the same vehicle at 2:30 p.m. and de-boarded just before the encounter site. In 2019, the policeman’s son (one among the slain at Lawaypora) was brought to SOG camp and counseled (against joining militant ranks). Meta data also shows that two from Pulwama had IP addresses from Pakistan,” Kumar said.
“Shopian boy, he used to talk to top Pakistani militant commanders through virtual numbers,” he added.
“Whatever family is saying has proved to be wrong. The family should have stopped them. Does the father not know why his son was frequently called to SOG camp and what he was doing? Parents have a role. They must keep watch on their wards. Parental control is must and parents must discharge their duties,” he said.
To a question, IGP Kashmir said that 5-10 percent are such militants killed in encounters whose complete biodata is not with police.
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