Killings follow elimination of two dreaded Hizb militants in massive encounter
SRINAGAR: Two jawans of Border Security Force (BSF) were shot and critically wounded by gunmen riding a motorbike in Pandach area on the periphery of Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar on Wednesday afternoon. Both of them were declared brought dead at a nearby hospital.
The police sources said that one of the jawans was killed on the spot and the other died on way to nearby Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS). Medical Superintendent at SKIMS, Dr. Farooq Jan, said that both troopers were “declared as brought dead on arrival”. The assailants before fleeing from the scene also took with them two services weapons of the BSF jawans, a senior police official confirmed here.
The J&K police earlier tweeted “Two BSF jawans on naka duty on the outskirts of Srinagar City at Pandach Chowk were fired upon by two to three bike-borne militants. One jawan died. Other injured was evacuated to hospital.”
The local sources said that the BSF jawans belonging to its 37th Battalion which is stationed at nearby Dignibal in the Valley’s Central district of Ganderbal were targeted while they were patrolling along the old Pandach road.
None of the militant outfit active in J&K owned responsibility for the attack which has come a day after the J&K police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in a joint operation killed Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s “divisional commander” Junaid Ashraf Khan and his close associate Tariq Ahmed Sheikh in an encounter in Srinagar’s Dana Mazaar, Nawa Kadal locality.
28-year-old Khan was the son of prominent separatist leader and amir of Tehrik-e-Hurriyat party Muhammd Ashraf Sehrai who is a close confidante of Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The 10-hour-long gunfight also left behind smouldering heaps of ruins of residential houses including the one where the militant duo had been holed up. While some police officials have termed the destruction of these houses other than the one in which the militants were hiding as “unavoidable collateral damage”, the locals have accused the security forces of deliberately causing devastation which has rendered many families homeless.
Some of the residents have also alleged that the security forces looted cash, gold jewellery and other valuables and even LPG cylinders from their homes after they were asked to leave these to avoid harm coming to them during the fighting. The authorities have strongly denied these allegations and reiterated that the security forces evacuated several families to safety before engaging the militants in the gunfight.
Meanwhile, the J&K police has said that they along with the Army’s 2 Rashtriya Rifles arrested four “terrorist associates” of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) in central district of Budgam. The accused have been identified as Muzaffar Ahmed Dar, Mudasir Ahmed Lone, Younis Waza and Nazir Ahmed Sheikh. “Incriminating materials including a pistol, a grenade and huge cache of ammunition were recovered from their procession,” a statement issued by the police here said.
Meanwhile, tension erupted in Srinagar’s Bagh-e-Ali Mardan Khan area and its neighbourhood early on Wednesday after the residents found that a failed attempt has been made overnight to torch a place of worship.
The police said that a case has been registered against unknown persons for damaging the Imam Ali mosque at Alipora and investigations launched into the incident. The local residents said that the “act of sacrilege” could be a deliberate attempt to create sectarian divide in the Valley.