LeT’s commander among three militants killed in Baramulla

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Government forces during a search operation in Kashmir
Government forces during a search operation in Kashmir (Photo Credit: Reshi Irshad)

BARAMULLA — Security forces on Thursday claimed to have achieved a major success by killing the most wanted commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) along with two other militants in a fierce gun battle in Malwah area of the northern district of Baramulla.

Police said that the slain LeT commander Yousuf Kantroo figured in the list of top 10 most wanted militants in Kashmir and he was the longest-surviving militant in the Valley.

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In the encounter, four soldiers including an officer sustained minor injuries, police said.

A police officer told news agency Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that acting on specific information generated by Budgam Police, a special team of Budgam Police along with the Army (62RR) launched a joint cordon and search operation in Malwah area of Baramulla.

“During the search operation, as the joint search party reached the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired indiscriminately upon them in which four soldiers including one officer received minor injuries,” the official said, adding that “the fire was effectively retaliated, leading to an encounter. Later on, Baramulla Police headed by SSP Baramulla also joined in the operation. One policeman from Baramulla district also got injured in encounter who was later on shifted to Army’s base hospital in Srinagar.”

The official said that in the encounter, three militants including the most wanted commander of LeT Yousuf Kantroo, who is one of the longest surviving militants, were killed. “Their bodies have been retrieved,” the official said.

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“Kantroo earlier joined as an OGW of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit and was arrested in the year 2005. Later on, he was released in the year 2008 but he again joined militant ranks in the year 2017 and started killing innocent civilians, policemen and political workers. Later on, he switched from Hizb to Lashkar outfit,” police said.

Police said that the identification of the other two slain militants was being ascertained. It said that as per police records, the killed militants were categorized as part of groups involved in several criminal cases including attacks on police/security forces and civilian atrocities.

Police said that Kantroo was involved in dozens of civilian atrocities and forces personnel killings including the killing of SPO Mohd Ishfaq Dar and his brother Umer Ahmad Dar, resident of Chatabugh Budgam on 26-03-2022, the killing of BDC Chairman Late Sardar Bhupinder Singh on 23-09-2020 in his own native place in Khag, killing of NC Block President at Natipora Chanapora Srinagar and dozens of other incidents.

In addition to this, police said that the slain Kantroo was also involved in recruiting innocent/gullible youth into militancy folds including recruitment of Faisal Hafeez Dar of Aaripanth Magam into the militant ranks.

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Meanwhile, while commenting on a video that went viral on social media, in which the mother of a trapped militant while mourning is heard saying, “Come back my son, you are too young and innocent, these old cruel militants have deceived you, they are pick-pocketers and goons who are enticing innocent and young boys”, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar yet again appealed parents of other militants to appeal to their wards to shun the path of violence.

“He congratulated the joint team of forces for conducting successful anti-militant operation by eliminating the top most-wanted militant Yousuf Kantroo,” a police spokesman quoted IGP as having said. The IGP termed the killing of Kantroo a big success for the forces.

The police spokesman also said that incriminating materials, arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of the encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation.

“Two more militants are still inside the cordon and an exchange of fire is going on. Further information will be shared accordingly,” he said.

A police official said that an 18-year-old militant identified as Faisal Hafiz was also trapped in the area. His family had been brought to the encounter site by the forces in a bid to persuade him to lay down his arms.

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