LeT commander, aide killed in Srinagar gunfight
180 militants killed so far this year: DGP
Srinagar: A top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander and his aide were killed in a fierce gun-battle at Barzulla area of Srinagar on Monday, police said.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that after receiving the input about presence of militants in Barzulla area last evening, joint teams of police and CRPF laid a siege and on Monday morning, the gunfight started.
Witnesses said that since early morning, there was an exchange of fire between militants and security forces in the area.
“Many locals living adjacent to the house where militants were hiding, left their homes and ran for cover. A few families were evacuated by the police,” they said. Today’s encounter was second in Srinagar since September 17, when three militants and a woman were killed during Batamaloo gunfight.
A police spokesman said that during the search operation, as the presence of militants got confirmed they were given the opportunity to surrender after evacuating all civilians. “However, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party which was retaliated leading to an encounter,” he said.
The police spokesman said that in the ensuing encounter, two militants associated with the LeT were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of gunfight.
“The slain militants were identified as top LeT Commander Saifullah (a Pakistani National) and Irshad Ahmed Dar alias Abu Usama, a resident of Pulwama who was active since May-2019.”
The spokesman said that as per police records, Saifullah infiltrated earlier this year and shifted his base from north to south Kashmir, two months ago.
“He was involved in planning and executing several major militant attacks on security forces which includes the killing of a CRPF officer at Chadoora on 24/09/2020 and 02 CRPF personnel at Kandizal area of Pampore on 05/10/2020,” he said.
The spokesman said that arms and ammunition and incrimination materials was recovered at the site of encounter.
“Keeping in view the prevailing pandemic due to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of people from the inherent risk of contracting the infection, the bodies of the slain militants shall be sent to Baramulla for burial after completion of all medico-legal formalities,” the police spokesman said.
“The nearest family members of the slain local shall be allowed to participate in the last rites,” he said.
“People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials if any,” said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters after the encounter ended, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said that this year so far 75 anti-militancy operations have been carried out in which 180 militants were killed.
The DGP Singh said that the slain Lashkar commander who was killed on Monday has been identified as Saifullah from Pakistan, who was involved in the series of attacks on security forces including the recent attacks of Nowgam, Chadoora and Kandizaal, Pampore.
The DGP said that this year so far 75 anti-militancy operations were conducted in which 180 militants have been killed.
“Today’s operation was a successful one. All the operations against militants conducted this year were clean and conducted in a professional manner,” the J&K Police chief said.
He said that barring one operation at Batamaloo Srinagar, in which one woman got killed in cross fire, all operations were cleanly conducted by the security forces.
Asked whether Lashkar and other militants are trying to set their foot again in Srinagar city, the DGP said that this year eight encounters took place in the city in which 18 militants including a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander were killed.
“Whenever any militant outfit tries to establish its base in Srinagar, we successfully corner the militant with the help of our intelligence and other sources,” the DGP said.
On how many militants are active in Srinagar, the DGP said at present only one militant is active in the city who is involved in a couple of attacks. “We will bring him to justice very soon,” the DGP Singh said.
About how many security forces personnel were killed this year, he said police lost its 19 men and CRPF 21. “Army lost 15 soldiers and majority of them were killed on the LoC,” the DGP said.
Replying to a query as to how many youth were brought back after joining militancy this year, he said with the help of their parents and hard work of police, 26 youth, who had joined militancy were reunited with their families.
Asked whether police was sending the youth who shun militancy to outside J&K, the DGP said no youth has been sent out of UT. On whether there was any rehabilitation policy for the youth who quit militancy, he said: “Officially there is no policy as yet. When there would be one, details will be shared.”(with inputs from KNO)