‘Both were involved in killing of police constable Riyaz Thoker’: IGP
Anantnag: Two local militants of the Jaish-e-Muhammad militant outfit were killed in an overnight gunfight with government forces, here in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, the police said on Monday.
The slain militants have been identified as Aabid Hussain Shah, a resident of Monghama village in Pulwama district, and Saqib Azad Sofi, a resident of Amshipora village in Shopian district.
Police said that the slain militants were involved in shooting dead a police constable, Riyaz Ahmad Thoker, on May 13 in Gudoora village of Pulwama district. Thoker was shot at and killed while he was dropping his child off the school bus, just outside his home.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, confirmed the killing and involvement of the militants in the killing of Thoker. “The operation was concluded this morning with the killing of the two militants,” Kumar said.
The gunfight took place in Gundipora village where the government forces had launched a cordon and search operation late Sunday evening, following inputs regarding the presence of militants.
“Contact was established with the hiding militants and they were given a chance to surrender. They however opened indiscriminate fire, triggering a gunfight,” a senior police official from Pulwama district said.
He said that owing to the darkness and the fact that the militants kept changing positions between several houses, the operation had to be suspended during the night.
“Early morning there was a fresh exchange of fire and both the militants were gunned down,” the official said, adding that the bodies of the two have been retrieved from the site of the gunfight. “They will be sent for a burial following completion of medico-legal formalities,” he said.
The authorities have refused to hand over bodies of slain militants to their families, citing Covid protocol, since April 2020. The practice of burying militants at undisclosed locations in presence of a few family members has continued ever since. This has prevented people from holding massive funeral prayers for slain militants, wherein tens of thousands of people would normally participate.
This gunfight was the sixth gunfight in the Kashmir valley since May 25. These gunfights have resulted in the killing of fourteen militants and a policeman.
“Of the fourteen militants killed in these gunfights, six were Pakistani nationals while the rest of them were locals,” a police source told Kashmir Reader, “Seven of the slain militants were members of LeT, five of Jaish, and two of Hizbul Mujahideen.”
Kumar meanwhile has said that the police were fighting militancy through a multi-pronged strategy.
“In some cases, we take the help of parents to bring their wards back into the mainstream,” Kumar said. “Some are spotted through technical surveillance and are arrested.”
He said that those motivating gullible youth to join militant ranks have been booked under PSA and sent to jails outside Kashmir. “Besides, we give ample chances to militants, trapped at an encounter site, to lay down their arms and surrender,” Kumar said.