Local LeT militant killed in encounter in Shopian

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Government forces during a gunfight in south Kashmir
Government forces during a gunfight in south Kashmir

SRINAGAR — Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday said that a local Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant was killed in Chotigam village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district, who according to police was involved in inducting 12 youth into militant ranks.

A senior police official told the news agency KNO that a joint team of Police, Army and CRPF launched a Cordon and Search Operation on specific information about the presence of militants in the area.

He said that the search operation turned into an encounter after militants opened fire at the forces, who retaliated. “In the ensuing encounter, one terrorist was killed, who has been identified as Bilal Ahmed Bhat, son of Ghulam Rasool Bhat of Chek Cholan, affiliated with the proscribed terror outfit LeT,” the official said.

According to police, he was involved in several crimes including the killing of Pandits and non-local labourers.

In a statement to KNO, a police spokesman said that acting on specific information regarding the presence of militants in village Chotigam area of Shopian, a joint cordon and search operation was launched in the wee hours by Police, Army (34RR) and CRPF (178Bn) in the area.

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According to a police spokesman, during the search operation, as the joint party approached the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party, which retaliated effectively, leading to an encounter.

In the ensuing encounter, a militant was killed and his body was retrieved from the site of the encounter. He has been identified as Bilal Ahmed Bhat son of Ghulam Rasool Bhat, a resident of Chek Cholan, affiliated with proscribed outfit LeT, the spokesman said.

As per police records, the militant was involved in several crime cases including the killing of local army personnel namely Umer Fayaz son of Fayaz Ahmad Parray, a resident of Sudsan Kulgam; hurled grenade upon non-local labours in Hermain, resulting in on-the-spot death of two labourers. He was also involved in killing a Kashmiri Pandit namely Sunil Kumar Bhat son of Sri G Bhat and injuring another Kashmiri Pandit Pretimber Nath son of Arjun Nath Bhat, both residents of Chotigam Shopian.

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“He was also involved in an attack on local Bal Krishan alias Sonu, a resident of Chotigam. Moreover, he was involved in instigating local youth to join terrorist ranks and induced 12 local youth into the ranks of terrorists,” he said.

He added, “Besides other terror crimes, he was also involved in killing an arrested terrorist who was leading the search party during a CASO at Nowgam in the year 2022.”

Incriminating materials, arms and ammunition including an AK series rifle, three magazines were recovered from the site of the encounter. “All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror crimes,” he said.

In this regard, the Police have registered a case under relevant sections of law and an investigation has been initiated. “People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared off of all the explosive materials, if any,” reads the statement.

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