Three separatist militants were killed in a 20-hour-long gunfight with the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s southern Shopian district, the authorities said here on Wednesday.
They said that all the slain men were local Kashmiris and identified them as Sajad Ahmad Malla, Junaid Rashid Wani and Waseem Ahmad Magray. While Malla was associated with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the two others were Al-Badar cadres- “all part of groups involved in planning and executing several terror attacks on security forces establishments and inflicting atrocities on civilians,” the police said.
Meanwhile, a large number of mourners attended the funeral of a J&K policeman Altaf Hussain who fell to the militants’ bullets while foiling an attempt on the life of a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in central district of Ganderbal on Tuesday night. One of the two or three assailants was also killed in the PSO’s retaliatory fire, the police said.
The officials said that fighting broke out in Shopian’s Sugan area late Tuesday evening after the J&K police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) with the Army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles and the 178th Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) laid siege to it to conduct a search operation.
A police spokesman here said that the militants holed up in a private house during the cordon-and-search operation at Sugan were asked to lay down their arms and surrender before the security forces but they preferred to fight. “During the search operation, as the presence of terrorists got ascertained they were given the opportunity to surrender. However, they instead fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter,” the spokesman said.
He said that the operation was suspended in view of the darkness but the whole area was put under strict cordon. “Terrorists trapped inside made certain attempts to break the cordon and escape from the spot. In the wee hours, the operation was resumed and in the ensuing encounter three terrorists were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter,” the police added.
Meanwhile, DGP Dilbag Singh said here on Wednesday that the militant who was killed in the retaliatory fire of the PSOs of BJP second-rung leader Ghulam Qadir in Nunar area of Ganderbal was a close associate of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Reyaz Naikoo. He identified him as Shabir Ahmed Shah, a resident of southern Pulwama. Naikoo was killed in a fire fight with the security forces in his home district Pulwama earlier this year. He said that the BJP leader was targeted by militants while he was leaving his ancestral home for a safe cluster accommodation in the neighbouring Kangan area.
A police statement added, “The terrorist fired indiscriminately upon the protected person. However, his PSOs namely Altaf Hussain and Jahangir Ahmad exhibited a highly professional conduct by quickly retaliating against the terrorists and saved the life of the protected person thereby fulfilling their professional commitments”. It added, “The exemplary valiant act of the accompanying security officials resulted in the killing of an active terrorist on the spot thereby defeating the purpose of terrorist without caring for their own lives”.
Constable Hussain was, however, grievously injured in the exchange of fire and succumbed on the way to a hospital in Srinagar. Mr. Singh and several other senior officers of the J&K police and other security forces attended the wreath laying ceremony for the slain cop held here on Wednesday. Later a large number of people including relatives, neighbours and friends of Mr. Hussain attended his funeral procession taken out through Srinagar’s Ganderpora Idgah locality where he lived with his wife, minor son and parents.