‘Militants killed in Pattan had held hostage 12 civilians in a house’
Baramulla: The Indian Army and Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday told reporters that the three militants killed in Yadipora Pattan encounter on Friday were affiliated with Hizb ul Mujahideen outfit, which indicates that Hizb ul Mujahideen is trying to re-establish itself in north Kashmir.
They said it was after almost four years that militants affiliated with Hizb were killed in north Kashmir and that there was no presence of the outfit for the past four years in this northern region.
Addressing a joint press conference at Hyderbeig, Pattan, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) North Kashmir Muhammad Sulaiman Choudhary said that acting on an information tip, joint teams of police, army and CRPF cordoned off Yadipora village at about 5 am Friday and appealed to the militants for surrender.
Choudhary said that the militants were hidden inside a house where there were 12 civilians, including some children and women, who were held hostage by the militants.
Commander 20 Sector RR, Brigadier NK Mishra, said that the forces appealed to the slain militants to surrender many times but they refused and fired indiscriminately on the forces, in which a major-rank officer received injury but who is now stable in hospital.
Mishra said that the army’s priority was to evacuate the civilians from the house, which was done successfully.
The officers identified the slain militants as Shafkat Ali Khan of Delina Baramulla and Hanan Bilal Sofi of Old town Baramulla. The identity of the third militant was being ascertained, though he “seems like a non-local”, the DIG said.
Meanwhile, local sources said that all the three militants were buried in Sonmarg area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. They said police in Sonmarg dug three graves with the help of some locals on Saturday morning and then buried all three in the graveyard.
Since Covid-19 broke out in the valley, government forces are not giving dead bodies of local militants to their families to avoid public gatherings, and are burying them in places far from their native areas.
Both the police and army officers also appealed to journlalists covering encounters to maintain distance because stray bullets can hit them. Some journalists had alleged that government forces misbehaved with them on Friday when a group of journalists reached the spot to cover the encounter. The DIG told reporters that he will look into the matter.