Mohammad Suhail/ Bilal Habib
Pulwama: In what the police and army are calling a “significant setback” to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the 47-year-old, dwarf-size divisional commander of the Jaish, Noor Mohammad Tantray, was killed early Tuesday morning in a gunfight with government forces in Karnbal locality of Samboora, near Pampore area of Pulwama district.
Tantray was serving a life-imprisonment sentence in Central Jail Srinagar when he jumped his parole in the year 2015 to join militancy. He was a native of Dar Ganaigund village in Tral area of Pulwama.
The gunfight erupted in Karnbal at about midnight, half an hour after a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) was initiated by government forces on Monday night.
“The CASO was launched on specific inputs regarding presence of militants in the area. A bunch of houses were cordoned off and, soon after, fire came from one of the houses aimed at our men,” Commander 1 Sector RR, Sanjeev Saroch, said at a press briefing in Anantnag.
He said the gunfire by militants was retaliated to and subsequently, Tantray was killed.
Police sources told Kashmir Reader that two more militants were believed to be holed up inside the house, “who might have managed to escape.”
“The operation was called off at about 7 AM this morning after retrieval of Tantray’s body and a combing of the rubble at the site of the encounter,” they said.
Local sources said that the government forces used explosives to blow apart the house Tantray was fighting from, killing him in the process.
A police statement, detailing the gunfight, also termed the killing as a “significant’ one.
Following the gunfight, a spontaneous shutdown was observed in most parts of Pulwama district.
As per the army and police, Tantray was first arrested in 2003, in connection with a bomb blast in Delhi.
He was later shifted to Srinagar Central Jail, where he was serving a life-imprisonment sentence.
“He was out on parole since 2015 and had since become a lethal Over Ground Worker (OGW) of the JeM,” a senior police officer said.
Tantray joined active militancy in July this year, following an encounter in Aripal area of Tral wherein 3 militants of the JeM were killed.
“He was of great help to the militants in terms of logistics, coordination, operations and recruitment,” Commander 1 Sector RR, Sanjeev Saroch, said, adding that Tantray’s killing was definitely a major setback to the JeM.
Soon after the news of Tantray’s killing started doing rounds, government forces, pre-empting that people will try to march towards Dar Ganaigund, blocked every entry point to the village.
Despite the blockades and despite the fact that internet services had been suspended in the area, thousands of people managed to reach the village to participate in funeral prayers of the militant.
Sources present at the funeral told Kashmir Reader that about 8 rounds of funeral prayers were held to accommodate the huge number of people.
Tantray’s body was draped in the Pakistan flag, over which a flag of the JeM was wrapped. People chanted pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans during the funeral.
Militants also appeared during the funerals, at about noon, and offered several rounds of gun salute to Tantray, sources said.
After the burial, clashes erupted around Dar Ganaigund village between people and government forces. The forces used tear smoke shells to disperse the protesting people. No one was reported injured during these clashes.