Anantnag: Mufti Waqas, operational chief of the Jaish-e-Muhammad and the alleged planner of the fidayeen attack on the army base at Sunjuwan in Jammu, was killed in a brief encounter with government forces on Monday, here in Hatiwara village of Pulwama district.
Hatiwara is a small village located some 2 kilometers from the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Lethpora area. According to police reports, an operation was launched jointly by police, army and CRPF following specific inputs regarding presence of militants in a residential house in Hatiwara.
“The contingent was rushed there but as soon as the cordon was being laid, the militant tried to escape by firing indiscriminately at the forces personnel,” a senior police officer said.
He said the militant was gunned down in brief retaliatory fire. “The body has been retrieved and identified as that of the JeM chief, Mufti Waqas,” he said.
Sources, however, maintained that two more militants accompanying Mufti managed to flee the scene. “They used the rear entrance to dash through, while Mufti ran out of the front entrance and got trapped,” a source in the police told Kashmir Reader.
As per police and other sources, Mufti had been active in south Kashmir since June 2016. He worked closely with former JeM chief, Noor Muhammad Tantray alias Noor Trali, who was killed in the same area in December last year.
Army spokesperson Rajesh Kalia described Mufti as a category A++ militant, who planned the Sunjwan attack on February 10 this year. Five army men, three militants, and a civilian were killed in that attack.
“This has caused a major dent in the designs of JeM,” Kalia said.
Following the shootout, major clashes erupted in Lethpora area along the national highway, which had to be closed for a while. Dozens of youths hurled stones at the government forces returning from the operation. The clashes were still continuing when this report was filed.