SRINAGAR: A Lashkar-i-Toiba (LeT) commander was killed among three militants in a gunfight with counter insurgent forces in Waterhail area of Budgam on Wednesday.
A police spokesman in a statement said that acting on a technical input generated by SOG Srinagar about presence of a group of militants in Waterhail area of Budgam, Budgam Police along with 62RR and 79Bn CRPF launched a joint cordon and search operation in the said area.
The spokesman said that during the search operation, as the joint party preceded towards the suspected spot the hiding militants fired indiscriminately upon the search party which was retaliated effectively leading to an encounter.
He said that in the ensuing encounter, three militants of proscribed outfit LeT (TRF) were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
“The slain militants have been identified as Lateef Rather @ Abdullah ( Top Commander) resident of Badipora Chadoora area of Budgam, Saqib Mushtaq Khan and Muzaffar Ahmad Chopan both residents of Khonmoh area of Srinagar,” said police spokesman in a statement.
“As per police records, all the slain militants were part of a group involved in several crime cases including civilian atrocities. The slain militant Lateef Rather @Abdullah Bhai was a second time recycled militant of LeT/TRF outfit as he was apprehended by Police in a crime case in 2001,” he said.
“Post his release from Jail in 2013, he again joined LeT outfit and started operating as a close associate of Top LeT Commander Abu Qasim( Pakistani),” he added.
“As per police records, he was responsible for a Fidayeen attack on 24/06/2013 in Hyderpora area on an Army Convoy in which 08 Army Jawans got killed. Besides, he was also responsible for plotting, planning and killing of SHO PS Chadoora Martyr SI Shabir Ahmed in year 2013,” said police spokesman in a statement.
“Subsequently, he was again arrested by Police in 2013 and prosecuted for his involvement in several crime case; however in November-2021 he got released from Jail,” he said.
“Post his release, he again started working for LeT/TRF outfit in Srinagar City and joined the terror folds in February-2022 and assumed the role as Commander TRF,” he added.
“During the year 2022, on the directions of his across border handler Sajjad Gul, killed militant Lateef Rather carried out several crimes and civilian atrocities including killing of a Kashmiri Pandit employee Rahul Bhat and an artiste Amreen Bhat in Chadoora area,” he further added.
The spokesman said that moreover, he was also involved in recruiting the gullible youth of Budgam/Pulwama/Srinagar areas to strengthen the folds of proscribed outfit TRF in these areas.
“The other killed militant, Saqib Mushtaq was also involved in several crimes including killing of DDC Member Sameer Ahmed Dar and firing on non-local labourers in Nowgam area,” he said, adding that besides, militant Muzaffar Chopan was recently recruited by militant Lateef Rather and was involved in a grenade attack in Khanmoh area.
“ADGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar appreciated the joint teams of Police/SF for carrying out the operation in professional manner without any collateral damage and eliminating the group of militants including wanted militant Lateef Rather,” said the spokesman, adding that he also termed the elimination of the militant Commander as a big success as he was wanted by law for his involvement in several civilian killings.
“While interacting with media, ADGP Kashmir also shared that all militants involved in target killings have been neutralised in different encounters except LeT militant Basit Dar of Kulgam who would be either arrested or neutralised in encounter at the earliest,” said police spokesman in a statement.
Incriminating materials including huge cache of arms & ammunition have been recovered from the site of encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further course of investigation, he said.
In this regard, a case under relevant sections of law has been registered and further investigation is into progress. People are requested to cooperate with Police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared off of the explosives, if any, said police spokesman in a statement.