4 LeT militants killed in Shopian gun fight

 SRINAGAR, Mar 22: Four militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit were killed and a soldier was injured in a gun battle in Manihal area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district today.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir Vijay Kumar told a press conference that stone pelting is more serious than militancy and the pelters will be booked under PSA.

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The IGP said that four local militants were killed after they refused the offer of surrender. “We also brought wife of one of the militant to persuade him but the militants opened fire from inside the house. All of them were categorized militants and in our list figure as LeT militants even though they claim to be members of so-called Lashkar-e-Mustafa. Three pistols and one AK were found”, he said.

IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Monday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Monday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

“Till 2 am we were hoping that there would be surrender (in Shopian),” he said and reiterated SOP announced in January this year by virtue of which the top police officer said that focus is on the surrender. “Our focus is on surrender of the locals during or before the encounter,” Kumar said.
He also issued an appeal to youth to surrender either before or during encounter.
He identified the militants as Rayees Ahmad Bhat who was active from October last year, Aqib Ahmad Malik, who was active from November last year, Aftab Ahmad Wani who was active from December last year and Amir Shafi Mir who was active from February this year.
Earlier, a joint team of Police, Army and 178 Bn of CRPF launched a cordon and search operation in Manihal following inputs about presence of militants in the village.
As the joint team of forces approached towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired upon the security forces leading to a gun battle.
He said so far nine encounters have taken place in Kashmir with one happening in North Kashmir and eight in South Kashmir. “Nineteen (militants) were killed and nine of them belonged to Shopian district. Two of the militants killed include two top commanders-Gani Khawaja and Sajjad Afghani.”
The IGP said 18 youth joined the militant ranks recently and five of them have been killed while three others were arrested. “Others are active in the field. We are in touch with their families and some are in pipeline to return,” he said.
He said that seven other youth have also returned to mainstream with the help of their respective families.
Kumar also said that so far no civilian has been killed. He said three policemen and a soldier were killed in separate militancy related incidents this year so far. “Yesterday one soldier was injured in Shopian and he is stable,” he said.
Kumar termed stone pelting more serious problem than militancy and reiterated to book those indulging in such incidents under Public Safety Act.
He said that Pakistan was continuously trying through social media to radicalize the youth. “Drugs are coming from Pakistan. Request parents to be vigilant and if someone is using drugs, get help from police hospital, he added.
He said security establishment was fully prepared for summer. “We are increasing nakas and shifting camps. After elections we will be getting more security personnel and we will plug gaps wherever required.” He said there would be safe and incident-free Amarnath yatra which starts from June this year.
Regarding law and order around gunfights’ site, he said: “When firing starts, we evacuate people and some people, miscreants among them resort to stone pelting. People from other village don’t come. We continue to identify them and some are booked under PSA and will continue to do so in future,” he said.
He said such incidents were under control and urged media not to “spread false narrative that stone pelting is increasing so that environment gets vitiated.”
“When there is law and order problem, Yatra declines, tourists fear to come while schools and colleges get shut. Stone pelting is a larger issue as society gets involved and as such we take stone pelting more seriously”, Kumar said.
“Militant does not make much difference. We don’t want schools and colleges to be shut and tourists stop coming. Law and order is a much bigger problem for me,” he said.
He said that security establishment wants to ensure that schools and colleges remain open and that there is increased tourist footfall “so that people earn their livelihood and there is peace.”
Responding to a question regarding narcotics and no palpable change on the ground despite claims of large scale recovery every day, he said: “When the disease is big, treatment takes time. It comes through Pakistan, Nepal and through drones. We don’t want you (media persons) to be informers but whenever you get any such details, share it we will act on it”.



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