Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Omar dies in a fierce encounter with Jammu and Kashmir Police and security forces in Budgam district.

Jammu and Kashmir police and the Army claimed on Thursday that they have killed a top Pakistani militant of the Lashkar-e-Taiba in an encounter in Chadoura area of Budgam district.

Official sources said the overnight cordon-and-search operation at Hushroo concluded on Thursday morning when LeT’s ‘commander’ Omar was killed in the final assault. His hideout was brought down with improvised explosive devices. The body and an AK-47 rifle were recovered later from the debris.

The residents of Lelhar, however, complained that police had “staged a fake encounter” and the man they killed was Showkat Ahmed Lone who had gone missing from their village on November 23. Shutdown was enforced in Lelhar and Kakpora, where demonstrators clashed with the police and the CRPF.

As the body was being prepared for funeral rites at Khansahab, Budgam, one Javed Ahmed Lone appeared with six others from Lelhar. He identified the body as that of his “brother” Showkat Lone and claimed its custody for funeral. But the police rejected his claim, but asked for his blood samples for DNA fingerprinting. Soon a crowd of 600 people reached Khansahab in trucks and tippers and a clash with the police ensued. Calm was restored after police resorted to baton charge and fired in the air.

Vijay Kumar, South Kashmir’s Deputy Inspector General of Police, confirmed that the police had filed a missing person report for Showkat on November 23. “We have compared Showkat’s pictures with those of the militant killed in Hushroo. There is absolutely no resemblance,” he told The-Hindu.

Superintendent of Police in Budgam, Mohammad Irshad, who led the operation at Hushroo, dismissed Mr. Lone’s claim as “a crude attempt at obfuscation” by militants. “This is just their old tactic of lying and creating a law and order situation. There’s absolutely no question of this militant being a civilian. We have concrete proof that he is LeT’s Pakistani militant Omar,” Mr. Irshad told The Hindu. He claimed police had a video-recording of the gunbattle in which the holed up militant clearly declared he was a resident of Lahore.”