Police claim Abu Ismail masterminded attack on Amarnath pilgrims
Srinagar: Police claimed to have killed the mastermind of the July 10 attack on Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag, Abu Ismail, along with another Laskhar militant, Abu Qasim alias Chota Qasim, in an encounter at Nowgam, on the outskirts of Srinagar, on Thursday afternoon.
“After Abu Ismail martyred the Amarnath pilgrims on July 10, he was our main target,” Kashmir Range Inspector-General (IG) of Police, Munir Khan, said at a presser in Srinagar. “He was neutralised in Arigam locality of Nowgam, Srinagar, this afternoon,” Khan said.
Asserting that killing of top commanders was the priority of government forces, the IG said that a joint team of police, army’s 15 RR, and CRPF laid siege to the house in Arigam where the two militants were hiding at around 4:15 pm.
“In a crisp encounter, both the militants were shot dead,” Khan said, identifying one militant as Lashkar commander Abu Ismail and the other as Abu Qasim alias Chota Qasim.
“He was pinned down after a specific intelligence input was developed,” Khan informed.
He said that two AK-47 rifles were recovered from the possession of the slain militants.
“He was wanted in around 15 FIRs which included crimes like murder, dacoity and other militancy-related incidents,” Khan said.
According to an eyewitness at Arigam, the encounter hardly lasted 15 minutes. “As soon as the cordon was laid, the two militants came out of the house and tried to flee through a narrow street,” the eyewitness said. “One of them was shot when he had not been able to fire even a single bullet. The other was dead after he fired just a few rounds.”
The eyewitnesses said that army and police took possession of the bodies.
Major General BS Raju, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Victor Force, who was part of the presser, said that the killing of Abu Ismail was significant as he was involved in the killing of “14 security personnel and eight civilians”.
“We are expecting a vacuum in the Lashkar now, which should give us more opportunities. Meanwhile, the synergy between all agencies will continue,” he said.
Target Militant Leadership
The IG Kashmir said that the main focus of the forces will be to kill the militant leadership in Kashmir.
Munir Khan said Ismail was an A++ category militant and that seven more such commanders are still alive.
“For us it is important to neutralise the militant leadership,” Khan told Kashmir Reader. “This is our strategy. These commanders are important because they recruit youngsters, lure them to militancy, plan violence and create a mess. They coerce people to join militancy. It is, therefore, important to kill the militant leadership.”
For this purpose, he said, the police will intensify intelligence generation in the coming days.
On the frequent internet shutdowns during and after encounters, Khan said that it was done because it was an operational requirement. “That is why we suspend internet,” the IGP said.
Khan further clarified that the offer of surrender was only valid for local militants. “This offer is not for foreign militants,” he said.