Kupwara: Police on Thursday claimed to have killed two local militants who had snatched the service rifle of a police constable on Tuesday in a nearby area. Police said that the two militants, both residents of Kupwara district, were killed in a brief gunfight with government forces that took place beside a road in Khumriyal area of Lolab in Kupwara district.
Government forces had been searching for the suspected militants who had snatched the service rifle of a police constable deployed on the Kupwara-Khurhama road for the local MLA’s visit on Tuesday. Police sources said that a high alert had been sounded across the district and police together with other government forces were trying to identify and nab the rifle-snatchers.
On Thursday afternoon, police said that they killed the two local militants who had carried out the rifle snatching. Police said the militants were killed in a brief encounter in Khumriyal area, which is close to where the rifle-snatching was carried out. Police claimed to have recovered arms and ammunition, including the snatched service rifle, from the possession of the slain militants.
Police sources said that on Thursday afternoon a tip was received about the militants, acting on which a joint team of the army, special operations group (SOG) of police, and paramilitary CRPF rushed to Khumriyal area and saw the two militants on the road. When the government forces challenged them, they entered the compounds of a local power grid station and from there opened fire at the government forces. A brief gunfight ensued in which both the militants were gunned down.
Senior Superintendent of Police Kupwara AS Dinkar confirmed to Kashmir Reader that a joint team of forces killed two militants in Khumriyal area on the roadside. The SSP further said that both the bodies had been recovered and further investigation was going on.
In the evening, police identified the duo as Bilal Ahmad Shah of Shotmuqam Lolab and Zahoor Ahmad Shah of Kalaroos Kupwara. Police said that Bilal was active in the district for the past one-and-a-half year while Zahoor was active since a year ago.
Police sources confirmed that both Bilal and Zahoor were involved in Tuesday’s rifle-snatching on the Kupwara-Khurhama road.
Soon after the militants were gunned down, government forces cordoned off the Khumriyal area and did not allow people to go to the native villages of the slain militants. Teams of hundreds of troops of army and police were deployed in the area to enforce the restrictions.
Police sources said that bodies of both the militants were shifted to Police Lines Kupwara, where they were identified. The bodies had not been handed over to the families till the time this report was filed.
Sources in Khumriyal area raised doubts over the police version. They said that there were no militants in the area and only some vehicles of government forces were standing on the road when about a dozen gunshots were heard. After that, the local sources said, police claimed that they had killed two militants.
The local sources said that Khumriyal is a small village on the Kupwara-Sogam road, some seven kilometres from district headquarters Kupwara.