One of them, Hilal Wani alias Abu Maaz, described by police as ‘longest surviving terrorist’
BUDGAM: Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants from Kulgam district were slain by government forces in a nocturnal operation carried out in Gopalpora village on the outskirts of Budgam, police said on Wednesday.
The encounter started in the dead of night when a joint team of police’s special operation group (SOG), paramilitary forces and army’s Rashtriya Rifles (RR) conducted a cordon-and-search operation (CASO) around the village, after receiving “credible inputs” regarding presence of militants in the area, police said.
While searches began to be carried out in the village, militants hiding in a residential house opened fire and ran out in the open to try breach the cordon, police said.
In the exchange of fire, two militants belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen were killed, Budgam Senior Superintendent of Police Amod Kumar Nagpure said, identifying the duo as Hilal Ahmad Wani alias Abu Maaz, resident of Yaripora Kulgam, and Shoaib Ahmad Lone, resident of Kulgam.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, a local resident, Naveed Ahmad, said that it was about midnight when government forces arrived in the village. He said most people were unaware of the military operation as it was night and also snowing outside.
At about 3am, he said, when the searches began, militants hiding in a residential house came out in an attempt to breach the cordon, but government forces intercepted them and shot them dead along the wall of the house.
“Many people were still in sound sleep or thought that the firing sounds were coming from the airport, which is close to the encounter site,” Naveed said and explained that government forces stationed at the airport “usually fire several rounds during night hours.”
Another local resident, Imtiyaz Ahmad, said that the firing lasted for five to ten minutes only. “If people would have known that militants had been killed, the situation would have been altogether different,” he said.
A complete shutdown was observed in Budgam on Wednesday after people learnt of the killing of the militants. Internet services were suspended in the district by the administration in the morning.
According to the police statement, the slain militants were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen and were wanted by law for “complicity” in a series of terror crimes, including attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities.
Hilal Wani, according to police, had a long history of “terror crime” and was the main person responsible for “recruitment into the terrorist fold”. The police statement described him as the longest surviving terrorist in southern and central Kashmir who had joined militant ranks in 2015.
“He was responsible for conspiring and executing many terror attacks on security establishments in the valley,” the police statement said.
Similarly, Shoaib Lone alias Mursi was described by police as being involved in several terror attacks and civilian atrocities. “He was part of groups involved in conspiring and executing terror attacks in the valley,” police said.
The statement added that “incriminating material including arms & ammunition was recovered from the site of encounter.”
The bodies of the killed militants were handed over to their families after completion of medico-legal formalities.
Police also issued an advisory for common citizens to not go close to the encounter site. “Citizens are once again requested not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials,” the advisory said, requesting people to cooperate with police till the area was completely sanitised.