IG Police says Pak will be asked to collect body of Masood Azhar’s nephew
Srinagar: After the killing of three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, among them a divisional commander and a nephew of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, the army commander of south Kashmir said on Tuesday that “the level and quality of militancy” in the valley had “come down”.
“The level and quality of militancy has come down. The playing field for them (militants) has shrunk, and the quality of people who are joining is definitely compromised. The relative level of peace that is there is ensuring that the government is able to function better. The administration is able to discharge its duties,” Lt Gen BS Raju, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Victor Force, said at a joint press conference of police, CRPF and army in Srinagar.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, Munir Khan and Inspector General of CRPF Ravideep Sahi were also present at the presser.
On Monday, three militants and an army soldier were killed in a gunfight in Aglar Kandi village of Pulwama district. The killed militants were identified as Talha Rasheed, nephew of Masood Azhar; Mehmood Bhai, divisional commander of the JeM; and Waseem Ahmad Ganai, resident of Drabgam in Pulwama.
Police also claimed to have recovered a US-made M4 carbine rifle, besides an AK-74 rifle and a pistol from the encounter site.
The M4 carbine rifle is a premier rifle used by NATO troops and by the armies of countries allied with the United States.
“As far as the M4 weapon is concerned, we will investigate how it came into the hands of these militants,” Munir Khan said.
Stating that this was the first time that an M4 rile had been recovered from militants in Kashmir, Lt Gen BS Raju said, “This US-made M4 carbine is presently with a lot of armies with the NATO. This is used by the special forces of the Pakistan Army. So, we have a reason to believe that this weapon was given by the Pakistan Army to JeM cadres.”
“This is not the only M4 that is in the field. We have reason to believe that there are five to ten (such) weapons,” Raju added.
However, IGP Khan said that there was no reason to worry as “there are challenges in handing this weapon (M4 rifle)”.
Reacting to a question about the presence of Jaish militants, BS Raju said that as the Hizbul Mujahideen had suffered heavy damage, the void was being filled by JeM.
“The existence of Jaish-e-Mohammad or the increase in their deployment only tells us that the capacity and the propensity of Hizbul Mujahideen to survive and grow has reduced. The void is being filled by JeM, which means that Pakistan is offensive at this level,” Raju said.
Munir Khan stated that local militants had given space to Jaish militants in the valley. He said that there were 16 to 20 Jaish militants active in the valley, which include some fidayeen groups.
Khan also said that the police will ask Pakistan to collect the body of Masood Azhar’s nephew.
“I am thankful that they have owned for the first time a Pakistani militant, owned that he is the nephew of Azhar Masood. Now they should collect the bodies as well,” Khan said.
He also stated that the group of the three killed militants was involved in attacking a police naka at Rajpora in which one cop was killed.
The IG CRPF provided some details of the encounter and said that the CRPF had to face stone-pelting in the area.
Saying that people should “understand that there is limit to these things,” he said “the cross-fire may cause civilian losses” in such situations.