Tral Gunfight: Slain militants were involved in civilian killings, says DGP

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by Samreena Nazir

Srinagar

Jammu and Kashmir Police Chief DGP Dilbag Singh on Wednesday said that the three militants killed in a gunfight with the counter-insurgent forces in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen.

DGP Dilbag Singh and IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

While addressing a press conference in Srinagar, DGP identified the slain as Jahangeer Rafiq Wani @ Umer Mukhtar resident of Ameerabad Tral, Raja Maqbool resident of Lurgam Tral and Saddat Ahmad Thokar a resident of Waghama Bijbehera.

A large number of arms and ammunition including two pistols and grenades were recovered from them, he added.

He said that the trio was involved in several acts of militancy and several FIRs were registered against them.

He added that Jehangir was also involved in the killing of two civilians identified as Mehraj Din Zargar and Ghulam Nabi Mir.

He said that ten encounters between militants and forces took place in Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2020.

The DGP further informed that around 23 militants have been killed so far this year. He added that 19 militants were killed in Kashmir and four were killed in Jammu.

He said several militant modules were busted in 2020 and 40 Over Ground Workers (OGW) of militants were arrested.

“Youth joining militant ranks have dropped considerably, which is actually a good trend. Eight youth, who ran away from home to join militancy, have been reunited with their families. Right now, shops and traffic are functioning normally” the DGP said.

In response to a question on Umar Fayaz, who was injured during a militant attack at Lawaypora, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said he has not been given a clean chit as yet.

“His condition is bad and he has been sent home for treatment. When he gets well, he will be taken into custody and interrogated,” Kumar said.

A police spokesman in a statement said, “Jahangir had a history of crime records since 2018 and was operating as commander of proscribed outfit HM in the area.”

“He was involved in planning and executing several attacks in the area along with Raja Umer Maqbool. Several crime cases were registered against them including Case FIR No. 70/2019 pertaining to arson and setting a pharmacy shop on fire at Tral, FIR No. 72/2019 pertaining to the threatening of civilians in Tral area, FIR No. 83/2019 pertaining to the killing of a civilian Mehraj Uddin Zargar at Tral, FIR No. 85/2019 pertaining to attack on army jawan at Devar Tral, FIR No. 86/2019 pertaining to arson and setting a truck on fire at Tral, FIR No. 87/2019 pertaining to Arson and setting  Mosque on fire at Ameerabad Tral, FIR No.90/2019 pertaining to the Arson at a Ziyarat in Kounsarbal Tral, FIR No. 06/2020 pertaining to civilian atrocities in Tral and FIR No. 11/2020 pertaining to killing of a civilian namely Ghulam Nabi Mir resident of Tral. Jahangir was also involved in case FIR No. 72/2018 pertaining to attack on policeman Ashiq Hussain at Pastoona Tral,” said the spokesman.

“Similarly, Sadat was also involved in several cases including an attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. Crime cases were also registered against him,” he said.

In response to a question about use of Internet VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), DGP said they are aware that people are taking advantage of the loopholes. “We know it is being used despite instructions. But there is a line between use and misuse,” he said adding, “Government is keeping surveillance on the misuse of the Internet.”

“There have been several instances of misuse. For example, the driver of the truck which was carrying militants at Nagrota sent a photograph to his handlers in Pakistan the moment his vehicle was intercepted at the naka,” DGP said.

He said the Jammu and Kashmir administration had issued an order on January 14 banning the use of social media but the police was only going after those who were misusing it.

“We have to differentiate between use and misuse, when someone misuses social media, there will be no room for leniency. You should be thankful that you are able to use it,” he added.

While responding to a question about the police spokesperson using WhatsApp to share press releases and send invitations for events including his press conference, DGP said, “We are sharing information (through WhatsApp) with you which means we know that you are using it. We are keeping a vigil on the use of social media and will act against those who misuse it,” Singh told reporters.

DGP Singh said if the situation improves further, relaxation in the use of the Internet can be considered.

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