Policeman, 2 militants killed in Tral encounter
Gunfight ends amid intense stone pelting and clashes
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, March 5: Twenty-hour-long joint operation by Army and Police concluded with the death of two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen and a Police constable at Haffu Nigeenpora village of Tral in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Sunday.
IGP Kashmir Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani told STATE TIMES that two militants and a constable got killed in the gunfight that began on Saturday evening and ended late on Sunday night. He identified the slain constable as Manzoor of SOG Tral who was a resident of Salamabad Uri. IGP said that Police and security forces had specific information about the presence of two militants and both of them were killed in the fierce gunbattle.
While as the local militant was identified as Aaquib Maulvi of the nearby Hayena village, his Pakistani associate was code-named as Usama. Two rifles, including an INSAS believed to have been snatched away from a CRPF personnel last year in South Kashmir, were recovered from the site of the encounter.
Officials said that three CRPF personnel and Major Rishi of RR 42 Bn sustained injuries during the encounter. They were rushed to hospital and were all reportedly out of danger.
The house of a carpenter Mohammad Ramzan, in which the militants had taken shelter, was razed to rubble with IEDs and it caught fire. IGP said that the local militant’s body was recovered but the Pakistani militants was badly charred and not yet recovered from the debris. He said that Aaquib gave a long and tough fight but was ultimately gunned down.
Sources in Tral said that Aaquib’s body was handed over to his family members late on Sunday night and his funeral rites would be conducted amid tension at his village on Monday. “Some restriction are already in place but there will be no curfew”, IGP said.
This newspaper obtained the recording of a telephonic conversation between Aaquib and his local commander Riyaz Naikoo. Aaquib is heard seeking apologies of his commander who in turn asks him to take care of Usama and make attempts to come out of the cordoned house and try to escape. Aaquib tells Naikoo that the people outside have engaged forces in intense stone pelting and clashes and there was no chance for the duo to escape.
The audio clip confirms presence of two militants---Aaquib and Usama---inside the house. Naikoo asks him to fight valiantly and cause damage to Army while attempting to escape. The conversation seems to have occurred at the sunset on Saturday.
For the whole day on Sunday, hundreds of people gathered outside the fully cordoned and emptied village and engaged Police and the CRPF outer ring in intermittent clashes apparently helping the holed up militants to escape.
Unconfirmed reports said that there was a concealed hideout under the house which helped the two militants to remain under cover for over 24 hours.