2 more militants slain in gunfight along the Amarnath Yatra route
Anantnag: One of Kashmir’s longest surviving militants and a most wanted commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Ashraf Moulvi, was among three militants killed in a gunfight with government forces along the Amarnath Yatra route on Friday afternoon, police said.
“A successful operation on the Yatra route is a great success for us,” Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir Range, Vijay Kumar said.
Ashraf Khan, better known as Ashraf Moulvi, was a resident of Tengpawan village in Kokernag area in Anantnag district. He was not only the senior-most militant as of now, but was also one of the longest surviving militants in the valley.
“He had joined militant ranks in the 2000s. Was arrested and released several times, and worked as a hybrid militant before he joined the ranks of militants one last time in 2016. Had been active ever since,” a police source from Anantnag told Kashmir Reader.
He said that Moulvi, along with Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Bashir Lashkari, was instrumental in the revival of militancy in Anantnag district, particularly in the Kokernag belt.
“He was a close aide of Lashkari and both of them together provided support to slain Hizb commander Burhan Wani in the area. Despite his proximity to Lashkari, Moulvi was inclined towards Hizb and joined the outfit soon after Burhan was killed,” the police source said.
Kumar said that the other two militants were yet to be identified. “The recoveries and identity of the other two will be conveyed in due time,” he said.
Bodies of the militants have been taken for medico-legal formalities, following which they will be sent to Baramulla for a quiet burial. “Some families have been called in for identification process, following which they will be buried in north Kashmir,” a senior police official from Anantnag said.
Authorities have refused to hand over bodies of slain militants to their families since April 2020, citing Covid protocol as a reason. The slain militants are buried at undisclosed locations in north Kashmir, in presence of a few family members.
The gunfight today took place in a high forest area of Srichand, Batkoot, near Pahalgam. The police said that the militants were hiding in the forest area, and a tip-off was received about their presence.
“Acting on the tip-off, a cordon and search operation was launched in the area to try and nab the militants,” the official from Anantnag said, adding that contact was soon established with the militants and they were asked to lay down their arms.
They refused the offer and opened indiscriminate fire at the forces, part of the cordon detail. “The gunfire was retaliated and in the ensuing gunfight, all three militants were neutralised,” the official said.
He said that the place was being combed to ensure there were no further militants hiding in the area. “The operation will be called off soon after the area is combed,” the official said.