Srinagar: Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar on Friday said that maximum restraint was exercised during two encounters in south Kashmir that left seven militants, including Ansar Ghazwat Hind (AGuH) chief Imtiyaz Shah, dead during the last 24 hours.
Kumar said that security forces went out of their way to convenience the trapped militants to surrender. However, he said militants didn’t pay heed to the pleas of their family members and the local Imam and continued firing. “Following this, all the militants were killed in the exchange of fire,” Kumar, flanked by General-Officer-Commanding (GOC) of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lieutenant General Devendra Pratap Pandey, told reporters during a joint press conference here on Friday.
Giving details, he said following specific information, a joint Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) was launched by Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K police, Army and CRPF in the densely populated Jan Mohalla in the main town in south Kashmir district of Shopian on Thursday evening. “Militants later entered a local mosque,” he said.
He said all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were followed. “We even sent the Imam and parents of the militants into the mosque to persuade them to surrender. But they didn’t listen to their appeals and refused to surrender,” he said.
The IGP said that keeping in view the sanctity of the mosque, maximum restraint was exercised. “We only used teargas shells and fired from the windows… we didn’t use any explosives and didn’t let the mosque to catch fire. The mosque is completely safe,” he said.
Kumar said all the five militants, who were trapped inside the mosque were killed. “All are locals… two are from Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), one from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and two are from AGuH,” he said.
He said at the same time security forces received information that the AGuH chief is trapped in the same area. “We came to know that he along with another militant had managed to escape after throwing a grenade,” he said.
The IGP said that after following various leads, security forces learned that he was hiding in a hideout at Nowbugh, Tral. “A CASO was immediately launched and when security forces were sealing the area, militants fired at them with automatic weapons,” he said.
He said the security forces retaliated ensuing in an encounter. “Both the militants, including Imtiyaz Shah, were killed in the encounter,” he added.
The IGP said all the seven slain militants were armed with AK-47 rifles, besides had two pistols on them. “Shah was the chief of AGuH and was active in south Kashmir,” he added.