Srinagar: Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Naveed Jatt was shot dead by security forces in an encounter in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday, five months after the LeT terrorists and two local militants killed senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
Another terrorist was killed and three soldiers were injured in the initial firing in Chattergam area of central Kashmir’s Budgam.
J&K police chief Dilbagh Singh said that since Jatt was a Pakistani national, he would write to the Union Home Ministry to inform Islamabad to take his body. "Naveed Jatt was one of the prime suspects in Shujaat Bukhari’s killing. Had he been caught alive, it would have been pivotal for the investigation in the case,” Singh told News18.
Jatt, a Pakistani who had escaped from police custody at a Srinagar hospital on February 6, had killed Bukhari along with two other terrorists on the eve of Eid on June 14.
The editor-in-chief of English daily Rising Kashmir, Bukhari was shot dead by militants when he came out of his office in Press Enclave and was boarding his car. Two of his security guards were also killed in the incident.
The 22-year-old LeT commander was known to be close to Abu Qasim, the former head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Kashmir who was killed by forces in 2015. He was also stated to be close to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, one of the masterminds of the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.
Jatt had appeared in a number of videos since Bukhari’s assassination. As per police officials, he also managed to flee from a number of encounter sites.
In the last one week, at least 18 militants have been killed in Kashmir, including top LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen commanders, mostly in south Kashmir. “There is a decline in militancy recruitment and people are cooperating with us,” DGP Singh said.
(The author is a Kashmir-based freelance journalist).