Security forces in the Valley notched a big success Tuesday when Jaish-e-Mohammad militant Sajad Maqbool Bhat, who owned the Maruti Eeco van that was used in the February 14 Pulwama attack which left 40 CRPF personnel dead, was killed along with another militant in an Anantnag village in South Kashmir.
An Army soldier also lost his life in the gunbattle which took place less than 24 hours after a Major and a militant were killed in a firefight in Anantnag district Monday.
Colonel Rajesh Kalia, Defence spokesman based in Srinagar, said: “Two terrorists eliminated today. One soldier martyred in the operation.”
In an official release, J&K Police said a cordon and search operation (CASO) was launched by security forces at Marhama village in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district. The search turned into a gunbattle after militants fired on the search party.
“In the ensuing encounter, two terrorists were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter,” police said. The militants, sources said, were hiding in a residential house.
A soldier, Anil Jaswal, also succumbed to injuries. “He was evacuated to a hospital where he attained martyrdom. We pay our rich tributes to the Army jawan for the supreme sacrifice made in the line of duty,” police said.
The slain militants were identified as Sajjad Maqbool Bhat and Tawseef Ahmad Bhat, both residents of the village where the gunbattle took place.
According to police records, Sajjad joined the militant ranks on February 22 this year, eight days after the attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama, and Tawseef in May 2018.
“During the course of investigation, it was learnt that the Maruti Eeco vehicle used for carrying out the blast in Lethpora was owned by one Sajad… as news of Sajad’s involvement spread, he escaped and joined proscribed terror outfit JeM. A picture of Sajad carrying an AK-47 rifle was also circulated on social media, announcing his joining the terror outfit,” J&K Police said in its release.
Colonel Kalia too said: “Sajad was the one who managed the vehicle for the February 14 Pulwama attack on the CRPF.”
A senior police officer in South Kashmir said Sajad’s killing was a “big achievement” for security forces. The J&K Police said Tawseef played a key role in recruiting Sajjad into militant ranks and they were both wanted for several cases in the area.
Also Tuesday, two soldiers, among the injured in Pulwama Monday after a car with an IED hit an Army vehicle, died in hospital.
In a separate incident, suspected militants lobbed a grenade at a police station in Pulwama district, leaving civilians injured. Pulwama health officials said nine persons were injured in the attack. Dr Abdul Rashid Parra, Medical Superintendent of district hospital, said: “Five of them were referred to Srinagar for specialised treatment.”
Since June 12, at least 10 security personnel have been killed in separate incidents in the Valley. Five CRPF men and a J&K Police officer were killed by militants Wednesday evening in Anantnag district. On Monday, a Major and two soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in Anantnag and Pulwama.