Anantnag: Two local militants, one from Lashkar-e-Toiba and another from the Jaish-e-Muhammad militant outfit, were today killed in a gunfight with government forces – here in Awantipora police district of South Kashmir, the police have said.
The slain militants have been identified as Umar Yousuf, a resident of Keegam village in the Shopian district, and Shahid Rather, a resident of Larow Jageer village in the Tral area in the Pulwama district. “Umar was affiliated with the LeT, while Shahid had been a part of Jaish,” a senior police official from the area said.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, has said that the two of them were involved in many militancy-related crimes. “Shahid was involved in the killing of a lady Shakeela in Aripal area of Tral, and a government employee Javaid Ahmad, a resident of the Lurgam village in Tral,” Kumar has said.
The gunfight ensued at about 7:30 PM Monday evening, here in the Rajpora area of Awantipora. “An operation was launched following specific inputs regarding the presence of militants in the area,” a senior police official from Awantipora said.
He said that contact was soon established with militants and they were given a chance to surrender. “They however opened indiscriminate fire, which was retaliated triggering a gunfight,” the police official said.
Guns fell silent though, after the initial exchange as forces lost contact with the militants. “The searches were intensified and by late Monday night contact was re-established with the holed-up militants. The gunfight erupted again and this time both of them were killed,”
He said that the bodies of the militants, along with arms and some incriminating material, have been retrieved from the site of the gunfight. “The bodies will be sent to North Kashmir for burial after completion of medico-legal formalities,” the official 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 seventh in Kashmir valley since May 25. These gunfights have resulted in the killing of sixteen 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, “Eight of the slain militants were members of LeT, six of Jaish, and two of Hizbul Mujahideen,”
Kumar on Monday 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 the ones 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.