Encounter Near Pahalgam, 3 Militants Killed

KO File Photo By Abid Bhat

  • Hizb’s longest surviving commander Ashraf Molvi among those slain
  • Successful operation on Yatra route success for us: IGP Kashmir

Srinagar- Three militants, including a top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, were killed in an encounter between militants and security forces near the popular tourist resort of Pahalgam in South Kashmir on Friday.

The encounter took place in the area which is witnessing heavy security presence due to the upcoming annual Amarnath Yatra.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that Ashraf Molvi (one of oldest surviving militants of HM outfit, was killed along with two other militants.

He said that successful operation on the Yatra route is a major success for government forces.

Official sources identified other two militants as Roshan Zameer of Aswara Kanelwan in Bijbehara and Muhammad Rafiq Drangay of Hayar Bijbehara who too were active since last several years now.

Mohammad Ashraf Khan alias Ashraf Molvi a resident of Tangpawa Anantnag as per officials had joined militant ranks in 2013 after working as an Over Ground Worker (OGW) for several years.

They said that after the killing of Hizb commander Dr Saifullah, Molvi was chosen as operational commander of the outfit.

Sources said, around 2:00 am Friday, Police and army’s 19 RR launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) in the forest area of Sirchan Top, a few kilometres from the tourist resort of Pahalgam.

The search operation, they said, was launched on the leads developed after the arrest of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Mohammad Ishfaq Shergojri during an anti-militancy operation in Kokernag on Thursday evening. Besides, the officials said, several CASOs were conducted in various areas of the district.

According to a police spokesperson, the joint party came under heavy fire from militants hiding in the forest area of Sirchan Top when the former started advancing towards the suspected spot.

The search team, he said, returned the fire, setting off a fierce encounter.

In the ensuing encounter, the spokesperson said, three Hizb militants were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.

Giving details of Molvi’s long history of “terror crimes”, the spokesperson said that he was involved in the killing of Constable Imtiyaz Ahmad at Bus Stand Anantnag on September 9 2017, ASI Mohammad Ashraf near Police Station Bijbehara on December 22 last year, Head Constable Ali Mohd Ganie at Hasanpora Tabeela on January 29 this year, and Mohammad Saleem Dar resident of Larkipora, Fatehpora in Anantnag on April 2, 2020.

On Molvi’s directions, he said, militants shot dead Sarpanch Ghulam Rasool Dar and his wife Jawahara Begum at Lal Chowk Anantnag on August 9, 2021.

According to the spokesperson, the killed commander was also well trained in fabricating and planting of IEDs, as he had crossed over to PcK in year 1999 to receive illegal arms training to join ‘terror folds”. Besides, Molvi, he said, was also instrumental in reviving the “terror folds” of Hizb in Anantnag by recruiting the gullible youth into their ranks.

The second slain militant Tantray, according to the spokesperson, was active since 2018 and was involved in several cases including the killings of policemen and a truck driver namely Narayan Dutt of Katra at Fruit Mandi Kanalwan.

The third militant Drangay, the spokesperson said, was active since 2019 and was involved in killings of an ASI and a Head Constable.

“Incriminating materials, huge cache of arms and ammunition were also recovered from the site of encounter. In this connection, Police has registered a case under relevant sections of law and investigation has been initiated,” he said.

The spokesperson quoted IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar congratulating the joint team for neutralizing the most wanted militants and conducting operation in a professional manner without any collateral damage.

“He also termed this operation as a major success as the site of operation is close to Yatra route which indicates that the killed terrorists were eyeing to target Amarnath Yatra-2022,” he added.

Pertinently, the killing of Molvi comes nearly a fortnight after government forces killed Muhammad Yusuf Dar aka Kantroo, one of the longest surviving militants in Tangmarg sub-district of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district after a 40-hour long gunfight on April 22.

He was killed along with two associates in around 40-hour encounter with the joint parties of army, CRPF and police.

Yusuf active for 22 years, was said to be one of the longest surviving militants.

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