Hizbul Mujahideen’s Lateef Ahmad Dar alias Tiger, the only survivor among 11 militants who appeared in a 2015 group photograph that included their commander Burhan Wani, was among three militants shot dead Friday in a gunbattle with security forces in Shopian district of south Kashmir.
Police said a soldier sustained gunshot injuries and was being treated. Health department officials said 40 civilians were injured as youth hurled stones and clashed with security personnel who had to use force to break up the protest. While one had a bullet injury, seven with pellet injuries were taken to Srinagar for treatment.
Police said Dar and two other militants, Tariq Ahmed Sheikh alias Mufti Waqas and Shariq Ahmad Nengroo, were killed in the gunbattle.
IGP Kashmir S P Pani said: “He (Dar) was one of the the oldest surviving terrorists in the area. And Tariq had been instrumental in recruiting people. This was a very good operation.”
Dar was from Dogripora in Pulwama district while Tariq and Shariq were residents of Shopian district.
Dar was one of 11 militants in a group photograph uploaded on social media by militant commander Burhan Wani, a year before he was killed in July 2016. Barring Dar and Tariq Pandit (he was arrested by police), all others had been killed by security forces in different encounters.
Police said Dar joined the militant ranks in 2014, and was a close associate of Burhan Wani.
A J&K Police spokesperson said a cordon-and-search operation was launched in Adkhara village of Imam Sahab area in Shopian district following inputs about the presence of militants. While the search was on, the militants who were hiding in a house fired at the security personnel, police said.
Police and security personnel evacuated civilians trapped at the site of the gunbattle. Later, clashes erupted with youth hurling stones at the securitymen.
Dr Abdul Rashid Najar, Chief Medical Officer of Shopian, told The Indian Express that 40 injured people were brought for treatment. “A total of 40 were brought to the health facilities today. We have shifted seven with pellet injuries to Srinagar hospital for further treatment,” he said, adding that one of the 40 had a bullet injury.
Pulwama and Shopian districts are part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency which will vote on May 6.