By Zaid Bin Shabir, Auqib Javeed
Srinagar- Three militants, according to police, were shot dead in the Rambagh area of the city uptown, close to a major paramilitary camp on Wednesday evening. Police later said the dead included a top commander of The Resistance Front (TRF).
Police said that acting on a specific lead about the three militants travelling in a vehicle in Srinagar’s Rambagh area, a team of Srinagar police cornered the vehicle and killed three militants.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that among the slain trio, one has been identified as Mehran, a top TRF commander who was involved in the killing of two teachers and other civilians in the city. “The militants were travelling in a car and they were signaled to stop but instead, they opened fire in a bid to flee from the spot but were cornered by the police party,” he said.
As per police records, Mehran Yaseen Shalla, a resident of Jamalatta area of old Srinagar, went missing on May 19, 2021 and joined TRF (LeT). The two other slain militants were identified as Arafat Ahmed Sheikh of Niklora, Pulwama and Manzoor Ahmed Mir of Babhar, Pulwama.
A police spokesman in a statement to Kashmir Observer said that acting swiftly on “our own specific input” regarding movement of militants in Rambagh area of Srinagar, a small team from Srinagar Police signalled a suspected Santro vehicle to stop. “However, the militants started firing indiscriminately on the police party from inside the car while trying to flee from the spot under the cover of firing. The fire was however effectively retaliated leading to gunfight,” the spokesman said, adding that “In the ensuing gunfight, three militants got killed and identified as militant commander of LeT (TRF) Mehran Yaseen Shalla, Manzoor Ahmad Mir and Arafat Ahmad Sheikh.
The spokesman said that as per police records, the killed militants were linked with LeT (TRF) and part of group involved in several crime cases including attacks on security forces and civilian atrocities.
Meanwhile residents who gathered at the shootout site, told the Kashmir Observer that the three were dragged down from the car and shot dead.
"At about 5 PM armed police personnel intercepted a Santro vehicle and dragged out three men and shot them dead,” alleged a middle aged man who runs a shop nearby. They were killed by armed forces personnel in front of us,” he said, requesting anonymity.
Another shopkeeper said one of the three tried to run into a nearby alley after the police initially shot dead one youth. “The policemen went after him and brought him back from the lane and killed him on the road," he alleged.
Twenty minutes before the shootout, he claimed a senior police officer’s vehicle — a bulletproof Scorpio with security escort — was parked near the intersection, through which VIP movement is frequent.
Several eyewitnesses claimed that there was no exchange of fire.
“I couldn't figure out how exactly the shootout started but when I reached,” said a youth who lives nearby, “the police had already fired at the car. On the road, one man was already dead.”
The youth, requesting anonymity, said "two people were killed on the road. They had no guns, not even a pistol."
He said police immediately covered the bodies with tarpaulin and carried them away
There were small protests in the area and anti-police slogans were also heard.
This is the second shootout in Srinagar in less than a fortnight.
Earlier a police operation at nearby Hyderpora locality on 15th of this month had sparked public outrage forcing LG administration to order a magesterial prrobe. Public outcry also forced authorities to exhume bodies of two of the four men slain during the alleged encounter and hand them over to their families for a proper burial.
Complete Police Version of Rambagh Shootout
"Three TRF terrorists involved in a number of subversive activities including the killing of two teachers,civilians and two police officers were neutralized in an encounter at Rambagh Srinagar today evening.
The killing of these terrorists is a major success for J&K police as they were planning to carryout more terror attacks in central Kashmir particularly in Srinagar city.
Acting on a specific information regarding the movement of terrorists Srinagar Police immediately swung into action and established a special Naka to track them down. The terrorists were traveling in a car which Was signalled to stop by the Naka party. The terrorists did not stop and instead opened fire on the Naka party which was retaliated, triggering an encounter. In the ensuing encounter three terrorists of TRF outfit were killed. The killed terrorists were later on identified as Mehraan Yaseen Shalla son of Mohd Yaseen Shalla resident of Jamalata, Arafat Ahmad Sheikh son of Mohammed Maqbool Sheikh resident of Nikloora Litter Pulwama and Manzoor Ahmad Mir son of Late Sonaullah Mir resident of Babhar Pulwama. Arms and ammunition was recovered from the encounter site.
As per police records, Mehran Yaseen was involved in several terror crime cases including grenade attack at Barbar Shah Srinagar on 26/06/2021 in which one civilian namely Mudasir Ahmad Bhat resident of Hanjigund Beerwah got killed & three other civilians got critically injured.He was involved killing of Meeran Ali Sheikh at Bulbul Lanker Nawa Kadal on 27/07/2021, and of PSI Arshad Ahmad at Khanyar on 12/09/2021.He was also involved in killing of School Principal Supinder Kour and teacher Deepak Chand of Government Higher Secondary School, Khankah Noorbagh Sangam on 07/10/2021. Prior to joining terror ranks, several cases regarding his involvement in stone pelting incidents are also registered.
Arafat Ahmad was also involved in several terror crime cases including killing of a non-local labour at Litter area of Pulwama on 16/10/2021.
Manzoor Ahmad was involved in transportation of Foreign terrorists from South Kashmir to Central / North and Vice-Versa through his strong OGW network in order to strengthened LeT/TRF outfit in Kashmir valley .He was also involved in collecting of funds on the name of LeT/TRF outfit and was instrumental for strengthening the LeT/TRF outfit."
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