The Jammu and Kashmir police say they have neutralised all the men directly involved in the killing of Station House Officer Shabir at Chadoura on December 2.
Omar, a subordinate of the dreaded Lashkar-e-Taiba ‘commander’ Qasim, was killed in a fierce gunfight at Hushroo in Budgam district on December 26. According to the facts revealed to the police, it was Omar who gunned down the SHO inside a shop. An AK-47 rifle used to eliminate the police officer was seized. Authoritative sources told The Hindu on Sunday that Omar’s local guide and accomplice, Riyaz Ahmad Bhat of Panzan, surrendered before a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Srinagar and another top wanted member of the militant group, Basharat Ahmad Mir of Ichhikoot, was arrested somewhere in Budgam district.
Lateef Ahmad Rather of Badipora was arrested by the Budgam District Police in a dramatic operation in downtown Srinagar on December 24. Lateef led the police party to Omar’s hideout at Ichhikoot but the militant escaped even after getting hit in the brief encounter. He was later traced to another hideout at Hushroo and killed in the encounter last Thursday.
Budgam Superintendent of Police Mohammad Irshad refused to confirm or deny Riyaz’s surrender and Basharat’s arrest. “We have achieved a breakthrough in the SHO’s killing but our investigation into some other high profile terror strikes is still under way. Our disclosures at this stage will hamper the investigation,” Mr. Irshad said.
However details accessed by The Hindu make it clear that the network of Qasim, a Pakistani militant who has set up a strong base for his guerilla organisation in south Kashmir, has been almost completely shattered in Chadoura belt of Budgam. Qasim’s south Kashmir network, according to the official information, comprises six Pakistani cadres of LeT besides 15 Kashmiri youths.
Lateef, Riyaz and Basharat are understood to have spilled the beans about the SHO’s murder as well as cardiologist Dr. Sheikh Jalal’s assassination, along with two of his armed police guards at Pampore on July 18 this year.
The LeT trio has revealed that Qasim and Omar planned the SHO’s murder as he was associated with high profile counter-insurgency operations with the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Budgam Police for 10 years.