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Pulwama: Security forces hunted down two militants

Militants were allegedly responsible for Sunday’s killing of a Kashmiri Pandit

Muzaffar Raina Srinagar Published 01.03.23, 03:23 AM
Bullet marks on window glass after the encounter in Pulwama on Tuesday.

Bullet marks on window glass after the encounter in Pulwama on Tuesday. PTI picture

A soldier was killed and another wounded in an operation in which security forces hunted down two militants allegedly responsible for Sunday’s killing of a Kashmiri Pandit.

Pulwama resident and bank security guard Sanjay Pandita was killed by militants on Sunday.


Tuesday’s gunfight came as a Kashmiri Pandit group representing resident Pandits of the Valley accused local Muslims of collaborating with militants for Sanjay’s killing and sought intervention at the highest level for weeding out militancy.

The statement contrasts the scenes of amity witnessed at the home of Sanjay where the family and BJP Jammu and Kashmir chief Ravinder Raina had said local Muslims had stood with the relatives in their hour of grief.

Police said two militants — Aqib Mushtaq Bhat of Malangpora, Pulwama, an A-category militant from The Resistance Front, and Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, a C-category militant from the Jaish — were killed in the overnight operation in Awantipora.

The police said the militants were hiding in a mosque and opened indiscriminate fire on the soldiers. The initial exchange of fire resulted in grievous injuries to two jawans, one of whom later died.

The army identified the slain soldier as Sepoy Pawan Kumar from Himachal Pradesh and the injured jawan as Naik Hemraj.

“Extreme caution (was exercised) and limited firepower was used in view of the sacred precincts. Civilians praying inside were also evacuated on time,” a police spokesman said.

The firefight killed a militant and searches were launched in an adjoining building for a second militant holed up in a bathroom.

“Again caution was exercised and 14 civilians were rescued from the place before he was neutralised,” the spokesperson said.

Deputy inspector-general of police, south Kashmir, Rayees Mohammad Bhat, refused to divulge details whether Aqib — the main accused in Sanjay’s killing — was directly involved or had given directions.

The police spokesman said the two were involved in the killing of Sanjay.

The Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, which represents Pandits who never migrated from the Valley, echoed the hardliners and said the modus operandi of “radical Kashmiris” was to establish “Islamic doctrine”.

“Islamic countries and scholars repeatedly claim that terror doesn’t have a religion, but they need to see in Kashmir that here it not only has a religion but a face too,” Sanjay Tickoo, president of the KPSS, said in a statement that reflected the worsening polarisation after the 2019 scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

“After executing the task, these people join the wailing crowd in stealth mode by giving statements about Kashmiriyat and join candle-light marches,” it said.

“Decisions taken by the government of India in August 2019 have exposed the Kashmiri society and its social fabric. Two out of ten have turned OGWs (over-ground workers) for these terror organisations who are responsible for the killing of Kashmiri Pandits and other religious minorities.”

The group called for a “brutal operation” against militants.

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