Two local militants, armyman killed in Awantipora encounter

SRINAGAR — Two local militants, among them one was involved in killing of a Kashmiri Pandit in Achhan village of Pulwama district and one armyman was was killed in an encounter in Awantipora.

The encounter broke out between government forces and militants at Padgampora area of Awantipora in Pulwama district during the intervening night of Monday-Tuesday.

Reports said a joint team of government forces including Indian Army, J&K Police and CRPF had launched Cordon-and-Search-Operation (CASO) at Padgampora area of Awantipora following the inputs about presence of militants in the area.

During the search, militants hiding inside a mosque opened indiscriminate fire upon search parties and in this initial exchange of fire, two jawans of Army sustained grievous injuries while neutralizing one militant on spot, police said.

Police 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.

Resuming the search for the second militant 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 neutralized, police said.

Both the killed militants have been identified as Aqib Mushtaq Bhat of Malangpora, Pulwama, an A-Category militant affiliated with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) militant outfit. He was working with The Resistance Front (TRF) from past few months and Aijaz Ahmad Bhat of Syedabad Pastuna Tral, a C-Category militant affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant outfit and also working in coordination TRF.

Incriminating materials, arms and ammunition including 01 AK-47 Rifle, 01 AK-74 Rifle, 01 Pistol, 03 Grenades, 02 Pouches, 05 AK Magazines, 02 Pistol Magazines, 103 AK Rounds, 20 Pistol Rounds and 02 Aadhar Cards were recovered from the site of encounter.

Investigation so far revealed that both the militants, although joined through different militant organisations, had come together to conspire and attack minorities, outsiders, other vulnerable targets and security forces, police said in a statement.

They were involved in FIR No. 14/2023 of PS Litter (recent killing of Kashmir Pandit Sh. Sanjay Pandita at Achan, Pulwama), FIR No 82/2022 of PS Pulwama (attack on 2 outside labourers at Lajoora), FIR No 115/2022 of PS Tral (weapon snatching attempt), FIR No 76/2022 of PS Tral (OGW module which supported them for grenade lobbing) among many other cases, the statement said.

Meanwhile, 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. — (KIMS)