3 militants shot down; protests engulf Valley

The Asian Age.  | Yusuf Jameel

India, All India

The slain include two senior commanders of the LeT and another of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), the officials said.

It identified the Army jawan killed in the clash as Happy Singh of Army’s 19 Rashtriya Rifles. (Representational Image | AP)

Srinagar: The security forces on Thursday killed three more militants including a top commander of outlawed Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) in their sustained campaign against separatist militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

With these killing, the number of militants neutralised in counterinsurgency operations in the restive Kashmir Valley during the past week has risen to sixteen.

The slain include two senior commanders of the LeT and another of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), the officials said.

They termed these killings as a major breakthrough against separatist militants in the State.During a series of operations carried out on Thursday, an Army jawan and two civilians were also killed and three security personnel were injured. The killing of a Srinagar resident triggered protests and clashes in parts of the summer capital and by students on the campus of the University of Kashmir in City’s Hazratbal area.

The witnesses said that the security forces fired teargas canisters to break up the funeral procession of slain civilian Muhammad Saleem Malik, a resident of City’s Noorbagh area.

Later during the day, irate crowds clashed with police and Central armed forces at several places in central Srinagar amid a spontaneous shutdown. The security forces fired dozens of teargas canisters to quell stone-pelting mobs in these areas, the witnesses said. The officials said that the civilian was caught in crossfire between a group of militants and the security forces at Noorbagh at around 4 am. The security forces, they said, had while acting on a “credible input” cordoned a cluster of houses where the militants were hiding. “The hiding terrorists fired indiscriminately resulting in death of Malik,” they added.

Malik’s family and neighbours alleged that he was shot in cold blood apparently after the militants had given a slip to the security forces during a cordon-and-search-operation in the area.

The police and Army said that three militants were killed in two separate operations in southern Anantnag and central Budgam districts on Thursday. One Army jawan was also killed and three others wounded during these clashes, they added.

Given the details of these operations, a police spokesman here said that the security forces including the J&K police, the Army and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) early Thursday launched a search operation at Gazi Gund Dooru in Anantnag. “During the searches, encounter started off between security forces and terrorists. In the ensuing encounter a local terrorist identified as Asif Malik who was operating as commander of proscribed terror outfit LeT was eliminated”, the spokesman said.

The police said that slain LeT commander was involved in several attacks on security forces including the killing of CRPF men at Achabal (Anantnag) this year and in many other cases of “civilian atrocities”.

It identified the Army jawan killed in the clash as Happy Singh of Army’s 19 Rashtriya Rifles.

Later during the day, thousands of people attended the funeral of slain LeT commander Asif Malik alias Abu Ukasha, an engineering graduate, in his native village Khahgund Verinag.

In the second encounter which took place in Panzan village of Budgam, the security forces killed two militants identified as Sheeraz Ahmad Bhat and Irfan Ahmad Dar, both local Kashmiris belonging to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. The police said that Irfan Dar was working as a Special Police Officer and had deserted the force a couple of months ago.

The police spokesman said that the militants holed up in a mosque at Panzan had fired upon a search party of the security forces following which a cordon was laid around it. “The local Auqaf committee was engaged to convince the terrorists to come out. Security forces also appealed the terrorists to come out. However, they turned down the offer and consequently the operation had to be carried out in a deliberate manner keeping intact the sanctity of the mosque”, the spokesman said.

In this operation, one security forces’ jawan also sustained bullet injuries and was immediately evacuated to hospital, the police said.

After these killings, clashes took place between stone-pelting crowds and security forces also in Budgam and Anantnag areas, leaving many people injured. The security forces fired teargas canisters and pellet shotguns to quell the protesters. The doctors at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital said that nine persons with pellet injuries were among those admitted there.

Internet services were snapped in Srinagar and Anantnag and Budgam districts amid the encounters and clashes whereas the rail services in the Valley were suspended for the day “as a precautionary measure” in view of heightening tensions

A report from Kupwara said that a non-local official of Beacon, a project of the Border Roads Organization, was killed during an Army ambush in the frontier district’s Sayedaan Pathra Kakva gali area on Thursday. The police, however, said that the identity of the dead person is being ascertained. End it