Srinagar: Three Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants were killed in a five-day long operation by the security forces in Nagaberan-Dachigam forests of Tral in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday, police said.
Police said that one among the slain militants was Wakeel Shah who, according to police, was involved in the killing of Bhartiya Janta Party leader Rakesh Pandita in Tral. “The identity of other two militants is being ascertained,” it said.
“#TralEncounterUpdate: 03 unidentified #terrorist affiliated with proscribed #terror outfit JeM killed. #Search going on. Further details shall follow. @JmuKmrPolice,” Kashmir Zone Police said in a tweet.
“JeM #terrorist Wakeel Shah neutralised in today’s #encounter. He was involved in #killing of Sh Rakesh Pandita (BJP leader): IGP Kashmir @JmuKmrPolice,” Kashmir Zone Police quoted IGP Kashmir Zone, Vijay Kumar in a tweet.
However, a police handout issued in the evening said: “#TralEncounterUpdate: 2nd killed #terrorist identified as Ab Hamid Chopan. His son Adil Chopan was also a terrorist, who was killed in an #encounter in year 2017. Terrorist Hamid was involved in #killing of #civilians. Identification of 3rd killed terrorist being ascertained,” tweeted Kashmir Zone Police.
Police also said that SLR recovered today was looted from Shopian. “#TralEncounterUpdate: SLR recovered from today’s #encounter is the same looted from minority guard at Zainpora #Shopian on 11/12/ 2018. Further details shall follow. @JmuKmrPolice,” Kashmir Zone Police said in another tweet.
Later, the police also identified “the third killed terrorist as Illyas Najar s/o Manzoor Najar of Khellan, Pulwama.” Police said he was active since June 2019.
The operation, according to the Army, was launched on Tuesday. Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Emron Musavi said “as a follow up to Op HANGALMARG, Victor Force, has been conducting search operations in the upper reaches of Nagaberan and Dachigam Forests since 17 Aug 21.”
“Contact was established with terrorists at 6:45 am on 21 Aug 21. Three terrorists were neutralised in a swift operation,” Col Emron said . “Two AK 47s, one SLR and other warlike stores have been recovered from them.”
“It is pertinent to note that Saifullah @Lamboo, involved in Pulwama attack, was also neutralised in the same area on 31 Jul 21,” spokesman said. “The operation once again highlights that Security Forces remain committed to countering the threat to the Kashmiri Citizens through relentless operations, to be able to create a secure environment in the Valley.”
Earlier, a police handout said: “On a specific input generated by Awantipora Police regarding presence of a group of JeM terrorists in the upper reaches of forest area of Nagaberan Dhoka area of Tral, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by Police and Army (42RR) in the said area.
“During the search operation, the hiding terrorists fired on the joint search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter. In the ensuing encounter 03 terrorists of proscribed terror outfit JeM were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
“One of the killed terrorists has been identified as Wakeel Ahmad Shah son of Muzaffar Ahmad Shah resident of Bagandar Tral.
“As per police records, the killed terrorist Wakeel Shah was a categorized terrorist and figured among the list of most wanted terrorists operating in the valley. He was instrumental in planning and executing terror attacks on security establishments and civilian killings of which several terror crime cases have already been registered against him. He executed a series of attacks on Police/security forces and resorted to brutal killings of civilians branding them as Police/SF informers. He was involved in killing of Municipal Chairman Tral & BJP leader Shri Rakesh Pandita at Tral Payeen, Shabir Ahmad Bhat resident of Noorabad Tral, Mohd Ayoub Ahanger resident of Tral Payeen, Shakeela Begum resident of Dar Ganie Gund, SPO Fayaz Ahmad, his wife Raja Begum and daughter Rafia Jan at Hariparigam.
“Wakeel Shah was also involved in a series of firing/grenade lobbing attacks on Police/SF including firing on SF during CASO at Brenthal, grenade lobbing at bus stand Tral on 18/10/2020. Besides, Case FIR No. 101/2020 of PS Tral pertaining to recovery of narcotics and explosives at Tral Payeen was also registered against him.
“Incriminating materials including arms & ammunition were also recovered from the site of encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror crimes.
“In this connection, Police has registered a case under relevant sections of law and further investigation is in progress.
“IGP Kashmir Shri Vijay Kumar-IPS has congratulated the joint teams of Police and Army for the big success that led to the elimination of wanted terrorist who was wanted by the law for his involvement in several terror crime cases.
“It is also pertinent to mention that Corps Commander 15 Corps, IGP Kashmir and GoC Victor Force visited the encounter site, interacted with the participants and appreciated their role in a very difficult operation. This operation is one of the best examples of jungle warfare.”