Lashkar Terrorist Killed in Encounter had Struck Fear in Kashmir’s Sopore District
Authorities say Asif Maqbool Bhat stormed the house of a fruit trader last week, injuring three people, including a little girl; he also killed a migrant labourer in a previous attack.
Asif Maqbool Bhat
New Delhi: Before being gunned down by security forces on Wednesday, Asif Maqbool Bhat had become synonymous with “terror” in Jammu and Kashmir’s Sopore district. The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) jihadist last week allegedly attacked the house of a fruit trader, injuring three people, including a little girl.
While Bhat was killed in the encounter in Sopore, two of his associates managed to flee. “Asif and his two aides Sadiq and Mudassar had struck terror in this area, threatening people, preventing them from doing their chores. The other two escaped, but we are on the lookout,” J&K DGP Dilbagh Singh said in a press conference.
The encounter comes at a time when parts of the Valley are under a security and communication lockdown after the Centre stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its constitutionally sanctioned autonomy on August 5 and reorganised the state into two union territories – J&K and Ladakh. Most of Kashmir’s political and separatist leadership is also being held in custody by authorities.
The DGP said Asif and the other terrorists were travelling by a car when they were intercepted. But instead of stopping, they fired at the security personnel, leading to an encounter.
“Based on specific inputs, we set up checkpoints to track and block Asif. We intercepted him and he attacked us. He threw a grenade. A few police personnel were injured but they are out of danger,” Singh said.
Young Usma Jahan suffered a gunshot injury to her leg after Bhat and the other terrorists forcibly entered her house, officials say. They also shot at her father and two others. Police say Bhat had come looking for Usma’s grandfather, Hamidullah Rather, a prominent fruit trader in the area. The jihadist was allegedly unhappy with Rather continuing to do business, defying a bandh call from terrorists.
Javaid Iqbal, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Sopore, said the terror module was pasting posters across the district, threatening locals against venturing out of their homes, either for trade, travel, schools or offices. “They used to distribute these posters for circulation in local villages,” Iqbal said.
According to police officers, Bhat was also wanted for the murder of a migrant labourer. Shafi Alam was shot dead in Sopore last week allegedly by the same LeT module.
On September 9, Jammu and Kashmir Police along with the Army, the Central Reserve Police Force, and other agencies, arrested eight jihadists from the Sopore region after busting a Lashkar terror module.
DGP Dilbagh Singh said, “This guy (Asif) was roaming around with another terrorist.” He added that hundreds of jihadists were waiting at Pakistani launch pads to infiltrate and carry out strikes in Jammu and Kashmir. Intelligence inputs suggest some terrorists have already slipped across the Line of Control (LoC) to execute attacks.
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