Barzulla Encounter: The Complete Story

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by Saifullah Bashir

SRINAGAR: Srinagar woke up to another encounter on Monday in which two militants were killed. Part of Barzulla remained disrupted for most of the day because of the encounter.

Irshad Ahmed, a resident of Barzulla, was busy in renovating his house as his daughter and son were slated to get married this year. They were living in a single storey house and the family somehow managed to add one more level to it. The October 12, morning changed his entire plan and scattered all his dreams. Irshad is a mechanic.

On October 12, he heard some knocks at his main door at around 5:30 am. After he opened the door, he saw a mixed contingent of cops and paramilitary personnel. His home was searched. He was told that the area has been cordoned off. Quickly, his family was evacuated and shifted to their relatives, living not far away. What actually was going on there, Irshad says he does not know anything. As soon as they reached the house of their relative, firing and loud bang started.

Smoke billowing out of the house that was damaged in an encounter at Barzulla area of central Kashmir’s Srinagar on Monday, October 12, 2020. Top LeT commander Saifullah from Pakistan among two militants were killed.KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The sound of the bangs was coming from the neighbouring house of Irshad, a 3-storey building owned by Shakeel Ahmed. It is a premises rented out as Ahmad, a contractor, lives in another house in the same locality.

During the encounter, four houses suffered damage. These belong to Irshad Ahmed, Shakeel Ahmed, Atifa Bano and Mushtaq Ahmed.

Shakeel’s house, where the militants had taken shelter, is almost razed to the ground. The gunbattle continued for almost four hours. The locality is a congested one and that is why police said it took them a lot of time. There was no damage to any civilian life. “We evacuated all civilians from the area.” IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told reporters.

Authorities had deployed the police and paramilitary forces on most of the airport road and the bypass side to ensure that nobody resorts to protests. There were reports of some tear smoke shells being lobbed in Barzulla locality. Police and CRPF were hugely deployed on the banks of the flood channel and the Barzulla Doudh Ganga Canal as well.

DGP Presser

Director-General of Police Dilbagh Singh Monday said in 75 anti-militancy operations this year, 180 militants were killed. He said the counter-insurgent grid won’t allow militants to establish a base in Srinagar especially when only one militant involved in series of attacks is active in the capital city.

“Today’s operation was a successful one. All operations against militants conducted this year were clean and conducted in a professional manner”, Singh told reporters. “The slain commander of LeT killed in Rambagh area this morning was involved in a series of attacks on security forces including the recent attacks of Nowgam, Chadoora and Kandizal, Pampore.”

The house damaged in Rambagh encounter in which two LeT militants were killed on Monday, October 12, 2020. KL Image

He said the operation was the outcome of a specific tip-off about the presence of militants.

“Security forces are alert all the time,” Singh said when asked if militants are setting up a base in Srinagar. “We will not allow militants to establish their base in Srinagar. Whenever any militant outfit tries to establish its base in Srinagar, we successfully corner the militant with the help of our intelligence and other sources.”

Singh said so far in 2020, eight encounters took place in Srinagar city in which 18 militants including a top Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander were killed. So far, Singh said Jammu and Kashmir Police has lost 19 men while Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) 21. The Army lost 15 soldiers, mostly on the LoC.

DGP said 26 youth who had joined militancy were reunited with their families. He said there is no rehabilitation policy in place for those quitting militancy.

Police Statement

Jammu and Kashmir Police issued a detailed statement about the encounter. Its is being reproduced verbatim.

Director General Of Police along with IG CRPF and IGP Kashmir addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Monday, October 12, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

“On a specific input of Srinagar Police regarding the presence of terrorists in Rambagh area of Srinagar, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by Srinagar Police and CRPF in the said area.

During the search operation, as the presence of terrorists got ascertained they were given the opportunity to surrender after evacuating all civilians. However, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party which was retaliated leading to an encounter.

In the ensuing encounter, two terrorists of proscribed terror outfit LeT were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. The killed terrorists have been identified as top LeT Commander Saifullah (a Pakistani National) and Irshad Ahmed Dar @ Abu Usama resident of Pulwama who was active since May-2019 and involved in several civilian killings and attacks on Police/SFs.

As per police records, terrorist Saifullah infiltrated earlier this year and since two months shifted his base from north to south Kashmir. He was involved in planning & executing several major terror attacks on security forces which includes killing of a CRPF officer at Chadoora on 24/09/2020 and 02 CRPF personnel at Kandizal area of Pampore on 05/10/2020. He was also part of the group involved in killing of two police personnel at Nowgam Srinagar on 14/08/2020. Besides, he was also involved in firing on convoy on 21/09/2020 in Nowgam area.

Incriminating materials including arms & ammunition were 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.

A woman who fainted in the midst of the gunbattle being given water in Barzulla on Monday, October 12, 2020, KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Keeping in view the prevailing pandemic due to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of people from the inherent risk of contracting the infection, the dead bodies of the killed terrorists shall be sent to Baramulla for burial after completion of all medico-legal formalities. The nearest family members of the killed local terrorist shall be allowed to participate in the last rites.

In this connection, a case under relevant sections of law has been registered and investigation has been initiated.

DGP J&K, IGP Kashmir and IG CRPF appreciated the role of Police and CRPF for conducting operation without any collateral damage.

People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials if any.”

Note: The original report had a factual error about the ownership of the house that was on rent. It has been rectified. The mistake is regretted.

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