Top HuM ultra Basharat Saleem killed?
AHMED ALI FAYYAZ
SRINAGAR, Jan 30: Harkat-ul-Mujahideen’s top wanted militant, Bashrat Saleem Sheikh, is believed to have died in a fierce gunbattle in the most disturbed Sopore township in north Kashmir late tonight.
Informed sources told Early Times that Sopore Police, CRPF and troops of Rashtriya Rifles 22 Bn swooped on the house-cum-restaurant of one Bashir Ahmed Sheikh at New Colony Sopore, late this evening immediately after receiving specific information that Sheikh’s militant son, Basharat Saleem, was present there. As troops and Police maintained a tight cordon and evacuated almost all the civilians from the adjoining houses, one militant, believed to be none other than Basharat Saleem Sheikh, ran away and took shelter in a nearby house.
While troops and Police were preparing for a late night strike, the holed up militant lobbed three grenades and set the house on fire. Troops directed heavy gunfire in retaliation. There was no evidence of the militant’s being alive at around midnight when the house perished fully in the blaze.
IGP Kashmir, Farooq Ahmed, confirmed that the holed up militant lobbed two or three grenades and thereafter set the house on fire. He said that the operation was underway as there was no evidence of the militant’s being dead or alive.
Basharat, according to informed sources, is a dreaded and top wanted militant of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen who is believed to have played key role in reviving militancy in Sopore town and its outskirts in the last six months. Last year Police had arrested his 50-year-old mother, Naseema, with the claim that she was intercepted and apprehended while carrying cash of Rs 50,000 and a grenade for two militants of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. However, she had been later set free on bail by a court.
Even as IGP Kashmir claimed that the militant strike at Lalchowk in Srinagar on January 6th was “exclusively a Lashkar-e-Toiba operation”, sources in north Kashmir insisted that Basharat Saleem and his Harkat-ul-Mujahideen group had planned and executed it in coordination with Lashkar. Two militants, one civilian and one Police driver had died in that gunbattle which turned into a Fidayeen operation overnight.
In recent weeks, Sopore and its outskirts have witnessed a series of militant strikes on soft targets, CRPF and Police. At least two of such attacks came directly on Police Station of Sopore. One of the outgone SP Abdul Waheed Shah’s PSOs had also died in the firing attack. Thereafter, Government created a special Police District at Sopore and posted Mohammad Altaf Shah of KAS Batch 1999 as the new SP.