Four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants, who were behind the recent targeted killings of non-locals, were killed in an operation in south Kashmir’s Shopian on Thursday. Three soldiers, on their way to the encounter site, were killed when their vehicle met with an accident.
“The four LeT terrorists neutralised in the encounter were active in Shopian and adjacent areas of Pulwama. They were involved in six terror crimes, including attacks on outside labourers. A hunt is on for their associates including Aijaz of Pulwama and they will be neutralised soon,” Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said.
Three soldiers killed
A police spokesman said three soldiers were killed when a vehicle carrying them from the Army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles Chowgam camp to the encounter site at Badigam, Shopian, met with accident. “The driver lost control over the vehicle due to some technical fault. It skidded off the road,” the police said.
“Four soldiers are being treated at the 92 Base Hospital,” the Army said.
Preliminary reports suggested that all the slain militants were locals. The militants were encircled during an operation launched following a tip-off. The trapped ultras opened fire on the search party, resulting in the encounter.
The slain militants were identified as Aaqib Farooq Thoker, son of Farooq Ahmed Thoker; Waseem Ahmed Thoker, son of Abdul Ghani Thoker, both residents of Heffkhuri, Zainapora; Farooq Ahmad Bhat, son of Abdul Salam Bhat; and Shoqeen Ahmad Mir, son of Mohd Abdulla Mir, both residents of Sugan.
The operation was launched a day after the militants shot dead a Kashmiri Hindu, Satish Kumar Singh, a driver by profession, in Kulgam’s Kakran area.
Last rites held
Meanwhile, the last rites of the deceased driver were held at his native village in Kulgam. It was joined by local Muslims, who condemned the attack on unarmed civilians.
“Nothing is in our hands. We are equally pained by the incident. Whatever happened is wrong. It should not have happened as he [Singh] did no wrong,” a local said.
Singh is survived by three daughters and wife. “We just want to know why he was killed? He had done nothing,” one of the wailing daughters said.
Kashmir has witnessed a spike in attacks on non-locals and members of the minority community in the past two months. The incidents have forced scores of labourers in volatile Pulwama to shift to Srinagar and other districts in north Kashmir.
“No religion allows us to kill people of other religions. People from all sections should ponder over the grim situation prevailing in Kashmir and join hands to find ways and means for ending the vicious cycle of innocent killings,” CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said. He said the perpetrators must be held accountable and be brought to justice.