Srinagar: Four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants were killed and a soldier injured in an encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Monday.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, said following specific information about presence of militants, troops of Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Special Operation Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police and CRPF launched a joint CASO at village Manihal, Imam Sahib Shopian late last night.
He said when troops were moving towards a particular area in the village after sealing all exit points, militants hiding there, opened fire.
“Forces retaliated ensuing in a brief encounter,” he said, adding the militants, who were trapped inside a house were repeatedly asked to surrender.
The IGP said wife and other family members of one of the militants were brought to the encounter site. “They (family members) urged the trapped militants to surrender, but the militants again resorted to firing”.
He said troops retaliated and in the exchange of fire, all the four militants were killed.
“All the four were categorized militants belonging to LeT outfit. Although, they call themselves as Lashkar-e-Mustafa, they are listed as LeT militants in our records and all these names, including TRF (The Resistance Front) are the offshoots of the LeT or Jaish-e-Mohammad,” the IGP said.
He said one AK rifle, three pistols and other incriminating material were recovered from the encounter site.
The deceased militants were identified as Rayees Ahmad Bhat, who was active since October last year, Amir Shafi Mir, active since last month, Raqib Ahmad Malik, active since December last year and Aftab Ahmad Wani, active since November last year.
Official sources said a house from where the militants were firing was blasted during the operation.
“Additional security forces and police personnel were deployed in the adjoining areas to prevent any law and order problem,” they added.
The IGP appealed local militants to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream.
“Every every possible help will be provided to them to live a normal life. They (local militants) can surrender now or even during an encounter when they are given an opportunity,” Kumar told reporters during a press conference.
He said 19 militants have been killed in nine encounters this year so far. “These 19 slain militants include two top commanders — Al Badr chief Abdul Gani Khwaja and Sajad Afghani of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM)”.
He said out of these nine encounters, eight took place in south Kashmir while one happened in north Kashmir. “Nine of these killed militants belong to Shopian district”.
The IGP Kashmir said that 18 youth have joined militants so far this year. “Of these, five have been killed in encounters, three have been arrested while others are active in the field”.
Urging parents to persuade their children to shun the path of violence, he said, “Some are already in the process of joining the mainstream. Seven local youth, who had joined militant ranks, have been successfully brought back with the help of their families”.
The IGP said that all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are being followed during the encounter and local militants are given chances to surrender. “Security forces are following the SOPs following which no collateral damage happened during these nine encounters”.
He said an Army jawan was killed in an IED blast and another in an encounter in Budgam. “Two policemen were killed in a militant attack in Srinagar. In total four security forces personnel were killed since January this year”.
Hitting out at Pakistan, he said the neighbouring country is still persuading youth to join militant ranks through social media.
“Seven newly recruited militants have confessed that Pakistan is instigating and radicalizing youth. Pakistan is also pushing drugs into J&K to destroy the lives of our youth. I appeal parents to keep a watch on their children. If anyone is using drugs, their parents approach the police hospital and every possible help will be provided to them,” added the IGP.