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Three LeT Militants, Assistant Sub-inspector Killed in J&K Encounter

File photo of J&K police. (Photo: PTI)

File photo of J&K police. (Photo: PTI)

A tight cordon was maintained throughout the night and the firing resumed this morning, he said, adding that three militants were killed in the gunfight. An assistant sub-inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Babu Ram, was also killed in the operation, the official added.

Three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants and an assistant sub-inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police were killed in a gunfight in the outskirts of the city here on Sunday, police said. Militants fired on a joint 'naka' of police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Pantha Chowk area late on Saturday night, a police official said. The joint parties of the forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation there, he said. During the searches in the area, the militants again fired on the search party of the forces who retaliated, leading to an encounter, the official said.

A tight cordon was maintained throughout the night and the firing resumed this morning, he said, adding that three militants were killed in the gunfight. An assistant sub-inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Babu Ram, was also killed in the operation, the official added.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the wreath-laying ceremony of the slain ASI, director general of Jammu and Kashmir Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said the three militants came on a bike and fired at the joint party of the security forces. “After firing upon the forces, they (militants) tried to snatch weapons, but it was foiled by the alert troops, forcing the militants to flee. They left behind their bike.

The forces chased the militants who took shelter in a nearby area known as Dhobi Mohalla, Pantha Chowk,” he said. The DGP said security forces acted swiftly and cordoned off the area till senior officers of police and the CRPF joined them to supervise the operation. “The operation lasted the entire night. In the initial exchange, one militant was killed and we lost a brave ASI Babu Ram. He was well-trained and an experienced counter-insurgency cop. As the operation progressed, we killed two more militants,” he said.

Singh said the three slain militants belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba and one of them was a commander active since more than a year. "He was involved in several terror crimes. Our forces have not only averted an incident, but also had a successful operation,” he said. The top cop said the other two militants were given an opportunity to surrender, but they refused.

“We brought the families of two others from the Pampore area who appealed to their children to surrender, but they refused and instead fired upon the forces. We gave them an opportunity even as we had lost a colleague," the DGP said. Asked about the identity of the militants, he said the details will be shared later. “The commander was active for the last one-and-a-half-year, while the details about the other two are being ascertained,” he said, adding, an AK-47 rifle and pistols were recovered from the slain militants.

A police spokesperson identified the three militants as Saqib Bashir Khanday, Umar Tariq Bhat and Zubair Ahmad Shiekh — all residents of Drangbal area of Pampore. The spokesperson said as per police records, the killed militants were part of groups involved in planning and executing several terror attacks in the area. Besides a weapon snatching bid at J-K Bank Pampore, Khanday was also involved in motivating and radicalizing the youth of the area to join militant folds, he said. Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of the encounter and have been taken into the case records for further investigation and to probe his complicity in other terror crimes, the spokesperson said.

He said keeping in view the prevailing pandemic due to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of people from the inherent risk of contracting the infection, the bodies of the militants shall be sent to Handwara, in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, for burial purposes after completion of all medico-legal formalities. The nearest family members of the killed militants shall be allowed to participate in the last rites at Handwara, the spokesperson added. Meanwhile, to pay honour and respect to Babu Ram, a wreath lying ceremony was held at District Police Lines here where floral tributes were paid to the martyred ASI.

The police spokesperson said R R Bhatnagar, Advisor to Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor, led the officers and personnel in paying the homage. The slain ASI's body was later handed over to his next of kin for last rites, he said. “Jammu and Kashmir Police stands by the family of the martyr at this critical juncture and pay our rich tributes to the martyr for his supreme sacrifice made in the line of duty,” the spokesperson added.

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