Major counter-terror offensive in Kashmir: 12 terrorists killed; 3 jawans martyred, 4 civilians dead

GJ REPORT
SRINAGAR, APR 1: In a major offensive, security forces today gunned down 12 terrorists, including those responsible for the brutal killing of Lieutenant Umar Fayaz, in three counter-insurgency operations in which three Army jawans achieved martyrdom with four civilians dead in Anantnag and Shopian districts.
The operations, which have rendered a severe blow to terror groups in Kashmir Valley, were launched in the two districts last night and continued till late this afternoon.
One militant was killed and another arrested in Dialgam of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, while seven terrorists were gunned down in Draggad. Four in Kachdooru areas of Shopian district. Out of 12 terrorists, 11 have been identified so far and all of them are locals, officials said.
Earlier police had said that five militants were killed in Kachdooru but they later revised the figure down to four.
Three Army personnel and three civilians lost their lives in Kachdooru area, whereas another civilian, who was the house owner at Draggad where militants were hiding, was killed along with the terrorists.
At a hurriedly called joint press conference of army, police and CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Police chief S P Vaid said this is one of the biggest counter-offensives in recent times against terror groups operating in the Kashmir Valley.
The operations by security forces rendered a severe dent to militant groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashker-e-Taiba, officials said here.
Three army jawans have lost their lives in the operations at Kachdooru in Shopian, officials said, adding three bodies of militants have been recovered from the debris so far.
The operation has been called off at Kachdooru and the security personnel were search the debris tomorrow again, the officials said.
Earlier, at a press conference called at Victor Force headquarters at Awantipura, around 33 kms from here, Corps Commander of XV Corps, Lt Gen A K Bhatt, termed it one of the biggest operations in recent times and said the death of Lt Umar Fayaz, who was brutally killed in Shopian last year, had been avenged.
“Among the militants killed are Ishfaq Malik and Rayees Thokar. They were responsible for his death,” Bhatt said.
Fayaz, 22, was killed by militants in May last year. His body was found with bullet wounds in the Hermain area of Shopian district in south Kashmir.
The DGP also made a special mention of an SSP’s efforts to convince a militant to surrender during the Dialgam encounter.
“I would like to make a special mention about the Dialgam encounter where our Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) made a special effort, which is unheard of in any part of the world.
“He called the family members of one of the terrorists. They spoke with him for 30 minutes, to convince him to surrender,” the officer said.
“Unfortunately, he did not heed the advice of his family. During the talks, the district SSP tried to get him over. Instead he fired on the police leaving the police with no option other than to retaliate. He was killed. The other one was caught alive,” he said.
On the ongoing operations at Kachedoora, the DGP said there was information about the presence of four to five militants, but “we will be able to give a clear picture only after the debris is cleared”.
One civilian death was reported from Draggad and the other at Kachudoora, both in Shopian district, the police chief said.
Violence broke out at the Kachedoora encounter site in which 25 civilians received pellet injuries while six others suffered bullet injuries, the police chief said.
The DGP said that all the seven militants killed in the Draggad encounter were locals and their bodies have been claimed by their families.
Inspector General of CRPF Zulfikar Hassan pointed out that people came in large numbers at the encounter site in Shopian.
“The operations will not stop and we will have to take all offensive measures in case they do not refrain from throwing stones at the jawans engaged in the counter-insurgency operations,” he said.
It was painful to see young boys getting killed in this manner, the DGP said.
“I urge all the parents to appeal to their children to shun the path of violence and join the national mainstream,” Vaid said. (With Agency inputs)