SRINAGAR: Security forces gunned down three militants in a day-long encounter at Pinglana village in Pulwama district of South Kashmir — one of whom is believed to be Rasheed Bhai alias Ghazi Umar, a top aide of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.
Rasheed and Kamran, killed with another commander Hilal Ahmad, were the masterminds of the worst hit on security forces to date at Lethpora last Thursday, which claimed lives of 40 CRPF jawans.
Even as the news came in early evening, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi who was closeted with visiting Argentine President Mauricio Macri, said “The brutal terrorist attack in Pulwama shows that the time for discussions is over now. Now the whole world unitedly needs to take concrete steps against terrorism.”
Advisor to Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Vijay Kumar said, “Police have reasons to believe that we have Rasheed Bhai, alias Ghazi and top commandant Kamran.”
#WATCH Police in #Pulwama appeals to locals to leave the site of Pulwama encounter. Four 55 Rashtriya Rifles personnel have lost their lives & one injured and two terrorists neutralised in the ongoing operation. (Visuals deferred by unspecified time) #JammuAndKashmir pic.twitter.com/q2X13OitXX— ANI (@ANI) February 18, 2019
#UPDATE on Pinglana, Pulwama encounter: One AK-47 & one pistol recovered. Identification of bodies of the two terrorists killed during encounter, yet to be confirmed. Search operation continues. #JammuAndKashmir pic.twitter.com/CGYfIctxNL— ANI (@ANI) February 18, 2019
The slain soldiers were identified as Major V S Dhondial, Havaldar Sheo Ram and Sepoys Hari Singh and Ajay Kumar.
A head constable of the police was also killed.
Kamran was second-in-command for J&K operations of JeM, a top aide to Ghazi, who was in charge of infiltrating young recruits. They had been operational in the state training, arming and planning with local militants to carry out fidayeen attacks.
Police say Rasheed entered the Valley two months ago while Kamran had been active in Pulwama and Avantipora since 2017 when he replaced a top militant commander Mufti Waqas who was killed by the forces in February last year.
The forces, however, lost an Army Major, three soldiers, a policeman and a civilian in the encounter, in which 10 others, including a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police, army’s brigade commander and another Lt Colonel were injured.
Police officials said a joint contingent of police, CRPF and army men laid siege to Pinglana village acting on specific intelligence about the presence of JeM militants linked to Thursday’s bombing.
Four army men — Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, 33 of Dehradun, Havildar Sheo Ram, 36, jawans Hari Singh, Ajay Kumar — police officer Abdul Rashid and a civilian Mushtaq Ahmad were killed while DIG Amit Shah, an Army Brigadier, a Lt Colonel and seven jawans are being treated for injuries in Srinagar.