In a major breakthrough, security forces killed the self-styled chief commander of the Al Badr militant outfit during an encounter in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. Security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation at Sherpora in the Tujjar area of Baramulla’s Sopore following information about the presence of militants in the area, sources said.
The search operation turned into an encounter after militants opened fire on the security forces, drawing retaliation. One militant was killed in the encounter and arms and ammunition were recovered from the scene.
The slain militant was later identified as Abdul Gani Khwaja, the self-styled chief commander of Al Badr militant outfit.
A police officer said Khawaja had been active in north Kashmir for some time and was wanted in numerous militancy-related incidents.
“It’s a big success,” said IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar.
JK DGP Dilbag Singh told News18 that Khawaja was wanted for many killings.
Khawaja belonged to Kralgund area of Kupwara and had trained with Hizbul Mujahideen in 2018 before returning to the Valley. Singh said Khawaja had created a strong network of over-ground workers in the area in association with other terror outfits. He would mainly target political workers, panchs and sarpanchs, apart from regularly terrorising local residents, Singh said.
In 2018, Khawaja and his associate from LeT had planted an IED in Kralgund and also fired upon an army party in Kachloo, Qaziabad, killing a soldier. Known to be adept at communication strategies using advanced technology, Khawaja especially intensified his activities after the abrogation of Article 370 in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir.
“Khawaja’s killing will put a big dent in militancy in Kashmir,” Singh said.