3 militants, police officer killed in Srinagar encounter

Three militants and an Assistant Sub-Inspector of police were killed in a night-long gunfight in Pantha Chowk area of Srinagar.

One residential house where the militants had taken shelter was razed to ground during the encounter where other houses suffered partial damage.

Police identified the slain militants as Saqib Bashir Khanday, Umar Tariq Bhat and Zubair Ahmad Shiekh, all residents of the neighbouring area of Drangbal Pampore. Police said they were affiliated with LeT militant outfit.

The slain ASI was identified as Babu Ram, a resident of Mendhar area of Pooch district. Babu was posted with Srinagar Special Operation Group for a decade.

The encounter, police said, started at Dhobi Mohalla Pantha Chowk when militants took shelter in the area after a failed attempt of weapon snatching.

Police said in a weapon snatching bid militants fired upon a joint naka party of police and CRPF at Pantha Chowk area. The attempt, police said, was foiled by the naka party and militants managed to flee from the spot.

However, police said, militants were followed by police and CRPF and the whole area was cordoned off with the help of reinforcement including from Army’s 20 Rashtriya Rifles.

Police said that during the cordon and search operation as the presence of hiding militants was ascertained, they were given the opportunity to surrender but they fired upon the search party.

“Their families were also called and repeated surrender appeals were made to them through their family members,” police said. “However, they refused to surrender and instead fired upon the joint search party which was retaliated, leading to an encounter.”

In the initial exchange of fire, police said, ASI Babu Ram sustained grievous gunshot injuries. “The injured was evacuated to a nearby hospital where he succumbed.”

The bodies of the militants, police said, will be sent to Handwara in north Kashmir for burial.

For several months now, police have been denying the bodies of the militants to their families as their funerals attracted large crowds.

This was the fourth encounter in Srinagar this year. Today’s encounter took place less than fortnight after an attack in Nowgam in which two policemen were killed.