A TOP operative of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and an engineering student from the Valley, who joined the militancy recently, were killed in two separate encounters in J&K by joint teams of the police and Army on Wednesday. Signalling a major setback to the LeT, J&K police said that a divisional commander of the outfit, identified as 25-year-old Pakistani national Abu Baker, was killed in an encounter near Sopore town. In another operation near Bijbehara town, police and Army killed one militant, identified as Basit Rasool Dar, a BTech student who joined the militant ranks two-three months ago.
SP (Sopore) Harmeet Singh told The Indian Express that the operation that led to Baker’s death was launched in early Wednesday by a joint team of police, Army and CRPF at Bomai village, 8 km from Sopore town. “The encounter ended in the afternoon and one foreign militant, Abu Baker, was killed in the operation. He was active in the (north Kashmir) area since 2009 and was around 25 or 26 years old,’’ he said.
Police said Baker was in charge of LeT operations in the Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts of north Kashmir. Sources described Baker as the most prominent commander of the terror outfit after Abu Dujjana, who is said to be based in south Kashmir and had recently evaded a police cordon.
Sources said that the house in which the militant was hiding was “completely destroyed” in the encounter. Bomai residents claimed that police and Army used powerful Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to bring down the house. Sources said that the villagers tried to break the security cordon during the operation and started pelting stones at the police and CRPF personnel who formed the outer layer of the cordon. Police used tear-gas shells and pellets to disperse the protesters, they said.
During the encounter, the services of many cellphone providers were snapped in North Kashmir, except for BSNL, said sources.
Since Saturday, the LeT has lost three top commanders in the Valley — two local commanders Majid Zargar and Ruhil Amin Dar were in killed in an operation at Bijbehara in south Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Dar was killed in Biowar village, 12 km from Bijbehara town, after police and Army came across three militants during a search operation. While Dar was killed on the spot, the other two managed to escape, they said.
Police sources claimed that before joining the militant ranks, Dar was a student at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora. The son of a bank manager, Dar was considered close to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Rashid who took charge of the outfit’s local operations after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8. Officials said that clashes broke out in the area after residents came to know about Dar’s killing.