Srinagar: Police and security forces killed two terrorists who were involved in the killing of Kashmiri Pandit, Sanjay Sharma in a gunfight in Awantipora area of south Kashmir, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said Tuesday.
The gunfight broke out in Padgampora village of Awantipora after J&K Police, Army and paramilitary CRPF left the area to track down the terrorists.
As the searches were started, the terrorists opened fire, triggering a gunfight.
The ADGP said that the terrorists had taken shelter in a mosque and extreme caution and limited firepower was used in view of the sacred precincts.
“#AwantiporaEncounterUpdate: 01 #terrorist killed. Body of the killed terrorist yet to be retrieved. #Encounter in progress. Further details shall follow.@JmuKmrPolice,” Kashmir Zone Police tweeted early Tuesday morning.
“The killed terrorist [midnight encounter] is identified as Aqib Mushtaq Bhat of Pulwama, an ‘A’ category militant. He initially worked for the Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit. Nowadays, he has been working with the TRF [The Resistance Front]. The killer of late Sanjay Sharma has been neutralised,” Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Vijay Kumar said in another tweet.
Later during the searches in the area, the body of another terrorist was retrieved while arms, ammunition, and incriminating material was also found from the gunfight spot.
“In a bravely executed operation, based upon specific input, joint forces of Army, J&K Police, and CRPF launched a cordon in Padgampora village of Awantipora,” the ADGP said. “During the search, terrorists hiding inside a mosque opened indiscriminate fire at the search parties and in this initial exchange of fire, two Army soldiers sustained grievous injuries while killing a terrorist on the spot. One of the soldiers later on attained martyrdom.”
Kumar said that extreme caution and limited firepower was used in view of the sacred precincts.
“Civilians praying inside were also evacuated on time preventing any collateral damage,” he said. “Resuming the search for the second terrorist who had holed up inside a bathroom of an adjacent building, again caution was exercised and 14 civilians were rescued from the place before he was killed.”
Kumar identified the killed terrorists as Aqib Mushtaq Bhat of Malangpora, Pulwama (A Category) associated with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and for past few months working with TRF and Aijaz Ahmad Bhat of Syedabad Pastuna Tral (C Category) associated with Jaish-e-Muhammad and also working in coordination TRF.
He said Aqib was active from January 2021 and Aijaz from May 2022.
“Incriminating material, arms and ammunition including an AK-47 rifle, an AK-74 rifle, a pistol, three grenades, two pouches, five AK magazines, two pistol magazines, 103 AK rounds, 20 pistol rounds, and two Aadhar cards were recovered from the gunfight site,” Kumar said.
He said that the investigation so far had revealed that both the terrorists, although joined through different terrorist organisations, had come together to conspire and attack minorities, outsiders, other vulnerable targets, and the security forces.
Kumar said that they were involved in FIR No 14/2023 of Police Station Litter in the recent killing of Kashmir Pandit Sanjay Sharma at Achan, Pulwama, FIR No 82/2022 of Police Station Pulwama for carrying an attack on two outside labourers at Lajoora, FIR No 115/2022 of Police Station Tral for weapon snatching attempt, and FIR No 76/2022 of Police Station Tral for the OGW module which supported them for grenade lobbing among many other cases.
Sanjay Sharma was killed on Sunday morning in Pulwama.
“ADGP Kashmir paid rich tributes to the martyr soldier and appreciated joint efforts of police and security forces for conducting such a complex operation where a hostage situation was defused tactfully and also the sanctity of the mosque was maintained,” a Police spokesman said.
Meanwhile, a statement of the Army issued here said that during the gunfight while two terrorists were killed, Sepoy Pawan Kumar and Naik Hemraj suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were immediately evacuated to 92 Base Hospital, Srinagar.
“Sepoy Pawan Kumar succumbed to his injuries, making the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army,” the Army statement said.