Shopian Encounter Was The Longest Operation Of 2021

SRINAGAR: The three-day-long encounter in the Shopian village concluded with the killing of all two militants who were holed up. Five residential structures and two cowsheds were destroyed in the encounter, reports reaching from the village said.

A view of an encounter site in Rawalpora village in Shopian where two militants were killed on Monday, March 15, 2021.

The slain duo included a top Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militant, whom police accused of having been involved in a number of incidents of sabotage in the area. He has been active since 2018, police said.

The encounter also witnessed the local youth engaged with the security grid in pitched battles while the gunfight was going on. The police and the paramilitary forces used tear smoke and pellets to manage the stone-throwing groups. Almost a dozen youth were injured in the police action.

The operation was launched on the specific inputs of the police that a senior militant was hiding in the village. Apart from police, the mixed counter-insurgent contingent included 34-RR and 14-CRPF.

The cordon and search operation (CASO) started around 3 am on Friday night with searches. The security men were particularly searching for a hideout. Residents said the village had been witnessing a CASO, almost every week. Earlier, in one such operation was a hide was actually discovered by the police.

This time, the security grid started scanning an old house, belonging to the Lone clan. “It was a cluster of two house – one bigger and one smaller,” one resident said. “Nobody lived in either of the two houses but they had specific information about a hideout in the bigger house so they took a lot of people to search for it and while searching it the old was started witnessing a sort of undoing.”

The first breakthrough came around 7.30 pm on Saturday when the police detected some movement on the second floor. It triggered a sort of crisis, one informed official, not authorised to talk on the record, said. The soldiers were on the third floor and a group of five civilians on the ground floor. “The firings started quickly,” he said. “While soldiers managed to move out, the civilian could only be rescued at around 11 pm in the night.”

The firing ceased for the night and Sunday morning, the cops detected one militant’s body. Identified as Jehangir Ahmad, police said he was using an American carbine M4. A resident of Rakh Narapora village, Jehangir was reportedly a LeT recruit who, according to police, was active since October 2020.

“The recovery of the American carbine confirmed that there is some top militant hiding,” one police officer said. “We quickly intensified the searches, reinforced the deployments and brought in more security men because we were sure that there is someone very important.”

It was in the afternoon on Sunday that both the old houses went up in flames.  However, when the police started searching the area, they were fired upon on Monday morning. This marked the beginning of renewed gunfight in which three residential houses and two cowsheds were destroyed. It eventually saw the killing of Jaish top militant Vilayat Ahmad Lone being killed in one of the cowsheds.

Both the old houses belonged to the family of Vilayat, reports said. His hide was located in the abandoned house. Active since late 2018, Vilayat had dropped out in eleventh class and was an auto driver before becoming a militant.

While the operation was going on, groups of youth engaged the security grid in stone pelting that led to the use of tear smoke shelling and the pellets. While three injured were shifted to District Hospital in Shopian, two were driven to SMHS and more than five were treated by various smaller hospitals.

Police said the conclusion of the operation got delayed because the locality was congested and they wanted to reduce the collateral damage. The bodies of the two slain militants were driven to some remote area for burial and the families accompanied the funerals. However, all the roads leading to Rawalpora were choked on Tuesday as thousands of people visited the village.

Police Statement

In a statement issued Sunday evening, police said: “On 13/03/2021 at about 2000hrs based on specific input generated by Shopian Police regarding presence of militants in village Rawalpora area of Shopian, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by Police, 34RR and 14Bn of CRPF in the said area.”

“During the search operation, as the presence of militants got ascertained they were given opportunity to surrender, however, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter.”

“Due to darkness the operation was suspended however the cordon remained intact throughout night. Today in the morning, repeated announcements were again made to hiding militant to surrender, but the militant fired on joint search party which was retaliated and so far one militant identified as Jahangir Ahmad Wani son of late Abdul Rehman Wani resident of Rakh Narapora Shopian, affiliated with proscribed militant outfit LeT was killed.”

“As per police records, the slain militant was active since 01/09/2020 and was involved in several crime cases including attacks on security forces and civilian atrocities.”

“Arms & ammunition including USA made M4 Carbine rifle and other incriminating materials were recovered from the site of encounter so far. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe his complicity in other crimes.”

“During the encounter, three houses caught fire while as a group of miscreants tried to disrupt the operation and created law & order problem near the encounter site during which some miscreants were also injured. However, to track the other hiding militants, cordon and search operation in the area is still going on. Further details shall be accordingly communicated.”

In another statement issued on Monday police said,” Apropos our earlier press release regarding encounter at Rawalpora area of Shopian it is further informed that the encounter resumed in the wee hours after remaining suspended for the night hours.”

“As the search operation was resumed, contact with the holed up militants was again established and during the ensuing encounter one more militant was killed and his body was retrieved from the site of encounter. He has been identified as top JeM commander Vilayat Ahmad Lone alias Sajad Afghani resident of Shopian.”

“As per police records, the killed militant was active since 08/09/2018 and was part of a group involved in executing a series of attacks on policemen, SF and civilians. He was also involved in attacks on security establishments and brutal killings of civilians branding them as police/SF informers.”

“Several cases were registered against him and was wanted by law for his complicity in several crime cases including Case FIR No. 304/2018 PS Shopian pertaining to terrorising the people so as to keep them away from Panchayat polls including blazing a Panchayat Ghar at Kanji-ullar. Case FIR No. 307/2018 PS Shopian pertaining to barging into the houses of police personnel, abducting and killing of SgCt Nisar Ahmad, Foll. Firdous Ahmad and SPO Kulwant Singh. Case FIR No. 343/2018 PS Shopian regarding attack on 34RR camp at Matribugh. Case FIR No. 362/2018 PS Shopian regarding abduction and killing of civilian Suhail Ahmad Ganai. Case FIR No. 35/2019 PS Shopian regarding the killing of SPO Khusboo Jan and Case FIR No. 45/2019 PS Shopian regarding abduction and killing of civilian Tanveer Ahmad Dar.”

“IGP Kashmir and GoC Victor Force conducted aerial monitoring of the operation and L&O situations at the encounter site. Both the officers have appreciated Police and security forces for the big success and conducting operation successfully without any collateral damage.”

“Incriminating materials including arms & ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe his complicity in other crimes.”

“The last rites of the slain militants shall be performed after conducting their medico-legal formalities and their nearest family members shall be allowed to participate in their last rites.”

“In this connection, a case under relevant sections of law has been registered and investigation has been initiated. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials if any,” said police in a statement.

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