Militant Active For 22 Yrs Killed In Tangmarg Encounter

Yusuf Dar aka Kantroo

Longest Surviving Militant Yusuf Kantroo, Two Associates Killed; 2 Trapped, 5 Security Men Injured

Srinagar- Armed forces gunned down Muhammad Yusuf Dar aka Kantroo, the longest surviving militant commander at Malwah area in Tangmarg sub-district of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Thursday.

The death of Yusuf Kantroo in a fierce encounter with army and other security agencies in Tangmarg is considered a major blow to Lashkar-Taiba which the deceased was leading in North Kashmir for a long period.

Yusuf active for 22 years, was said to be one of the longest surviving militants. He was killed along with two associates in a pre-dawn encounter with the joint parties of army, CRPF and JK Police.

Giving details of the operation, a police spokesperson said that army’s 62 RR and Budgam police launched searches on the basis of specific information about the presence of militants in Malwah village.

He said the search operation turned into an encounter after the holed up militants fired upon the government forces in a bid to escape from their dragnet.

In the initial exchange of gunfire, the spokesperson said four soldiers, including an officer, received minor injuries.

“The fire was effectively retaliated, leading to an encounter. Later on Baramulla Police headed by SSP Baramulla also joined in the operation. One policeman from Baramulla district also got injured in the encounter, who was later on shifted to Army’s base hospital in Srinagar,” he said.

In the ensuing encounter, the spokesperson said two LeT militants including dreaded commander Yusuf Kantroo, one of the ten most wanted militants, were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. The identity of the second militant, he said, is being ascertained.

Later in a Tweet, police claimed to have killed third militant in the encounter.

Two more militants, including a newly recruited teenager, are still trapped in the village where exchange of gunfire is going on.

“#BaramullaEncounterUpdate: So far, 03 #terrorists have been killed. #Operation going on. Further details shall follow,” police posted on its official Twitter handle.

Giving details about Yusuf, the spokesperson said that he was an over-ground militant of Hizbul Mujahideen and was arrested in 2005. Three years later in 2008, he was released. However, he again joined militant ranks in 2017 and started killing “innocent civilians, policemen and political workers”.

Later, he said, Yusuf switched from Hizb to Lashkar.

As per police records, the spokesperson said that the killed militants were categorized and part of groups involved in several cases including attacks on Police and security forces and “civilian atrocities”.

Yusuf, he said, was involved in dozens of attacks on civilians and government forces, abduction of security personnel, besides rifle snatching incidents.

He said that the killed LeT commander was involved in the assassination of Sarpanch Manzoor Ahmad of Pattan, BDC Chairman Sardar Bhupinder Singh in Khag village of Budgam in September 2020, SPO Mohd Ishfaq Dar and his brother Umer Ahmad Dar in Chatabugh in March last month, besides Tajamul Mohidin Dar of Guttapora Budgam on March 21.

Yusuf, the spokesperson said, was also involved in killing of NC Block president at Natipora, Srinagar, Gulzar Ahmad of Lawaypora at Narbal,

Tanveer Zargar of Chewa at Narbal, and Nazir Ahmad Dar, an employee of the Health Department, at Warihama.

The killed commander, he said, was also involved in abduction and killing of constable Mohd Ashraf Rather @Ishfaq of Archanderhama Magam, and abduction and killing of army Personnel Mohd Sameer Malla of Lokipora Khag on March 7, this year.

He further said that Yusuf was also involved in grenade throwing incidents, including the one at Kanihama on December 23, 2017 in which CRPF HC Riyaz Ahmad Rather resident of Nowgam Anantnag was killed. Also, he said, Yusuf was involved in killing of SPO Mohd Altaf during an encounter at Peth-Zanigam, besides killing of one Ex-SPO Naseer Ahmad Khan of Kawoosa Khalisa.

“Moreover, he was also involved in snatching 4 AK rifles from the residence of Legislature Muzafar Parray at J-13 Jawahar Nagar Rajbagh. Furthermore, on his directions Abrar Nadeem (neutralized terrorist) carried out an attack on CRPF at Lawaypora Srinagar in which 3 CRPF personnel attained martyrdom on March 25, 2021,” he added.

In addition to this, the spokesperson said that the killed militant was also involved in recruiting innocent and gullible youth into “terror folds” including recruitment of Faisal Hafeez Dar of Aaripanth Magam into militant ranks.

“Incriminating materials, arms & ammunition were recovered from the site of the encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation,” he said.

The spokesperson quoting IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar as congratulating the joint team of forces for conducting successful operation by eliminating the “top most wanted terrorist” Yusuf Kantroo.

Kumar, he said, also appealed to parents of other militants to appeal to their wards to shun the path of violence.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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