‘Chasing’ DG CRPF, 2 LeT militants killed in chance encounter on highway
Rajnath Singh greets CRPF chief over killing of two Bijbehara assailants on Srinagar outskirts
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Dec 8: Two militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, who were virtually chasing Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Srinagar-Jammu highway from Pampore to Srinagar, died in a chance encounter on the outskirts of the summer capital on Tuesday evening.
Highly placed authoritative sources told STATE TIMES that two LeT militants in a Tata Mobile vehicle, bearing registration number JK22-5943, lobbed grenades and opened fire from their AK-47 rifles when the driver was signalled to halt by a joint naka of Police, Army and CRPF in front of the EDI complex at Sempora, at 5.20 p.m. Police and security forces took positions and engaged the militants in a brief encounter. Both of them got killed.
The driver, who identified himself as a resident of Shopian, surrendered. He was immediately taken into custody for sustained interrogation. Sources associated with the operation said that according to the driver, both the militants had boarded between Pampore and Pulwama and asked him to drop them in Srinagar. Both carried AK-47 rifles, grenades and ammunition.
Sources said that DG CRPF Prakash Mishra, returning from Anantnag to Srinagar, had crossed EDI just 10 minutes before the chance encounter at the same spot. District Police Awantipora, Rashtriya Rifles 55 Bn and CRPF 23 Bn had set up the checkpoint as part of a larger operation to track down the three militants who had carried out a fidayeen-type attack on a CRPF convoy near Bijbehara on the highway on Monday and left seven paramilitary soldiers and a civilian injured.
DG CRPF flew in from New Delhi to visit the spot of Monday’s attack on the convoy. He also visited district headquarters of Anantnag and had a detailed interaction with senior officers of Police and security forces.
Sources revealed to STATE TIMES that the union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called Mr Mishra on telephone and greeted him over the fact that two of the three militants, who had attacked the CRPF convoy, got killed in a chance encounter with Police and security forces outside Srinagar within a day.
Deputy Inspector General of Police in South Kashmir, Nitish Kumar, confirmed that the two militants who died in today’s encounter at Sempora were the same LeT cadres who had attacked the CRPF convoy near Bijbehara yesterday. He admitted that today’s operation was a chance encounter and that there was no specific information available with Police or any other agency about their movement.
“We had laid a number of nakas throughout Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Awantipora Police districts. It was just their bad luck and our good luck that two of them got killed within a day. One of them has been identified as Shakir Ahmad Bhat s/o Showkat Ahmad Bhat r/o Nowpora Sopore who had joined LeT just in October this year. Another is one Syed from Pakistan. We have also got yesterday’s third assailant identified. He too is a Pakistani militant and we are sure to neutralise him very soon”, DIG Nitish Kumar told STATE TIMES. “They were definitely on a fidayeen mission somewhere in Srinagar today”, DIG said.
DIG said that two CRPF personnel, who were returning to their camp after the day’s duty, sustained gunshot wounds in the crossfire at Sempora. Besides, a female tourist from Bihar, identified as Ashya Begum, who was returning to Srinagar from Pahalgam in a vehicle, and one Riyaz Ahmad Dar of Ratnipora, Pulwama, also got injured in exchange of gunfire between the militants and security forces.
With two gunshot wounds in her back, Ashya Begum was under treatment at SMHS Hospital late tonight while as the two injured CRPF men were under treatment at SKIMS, Soura. Doctors said that all the injured were stable and responding to treatment.