For the first time since Lal Chowk fidayeen attack in January,a group of three suspected militants and a policeman were killed in a shootout at Qamarwari,one of the busiest marketplaces in Srinagar.
Police said they killed the militants after the latter opened fire on a police patrol,killing a constable.
Inspector General of Police,Kashmir Range,S M Sahai told The Indian Express that though they have inputs about the identity of one of the three militants,they would reveal it after further cross-checks.
Sources revealed that the police suspect that one of the three slain men is a youngster,Arshad Bashir Peerzada from Alsafa colony in Sopore town.
Incidentally,the encounter comes in the wake of reports that some stonepelters have joined the ranks of militants.
As reported first by The Indian Express,the militants have launched a recruitment drive across north Kashmir,Awantipora,Tral and other neighbouring areas of south Kashmir. According to the police,23 boys have joined militancy in Sopore town alone where the number of active militants is put at 45. The militant groups,police reveal,have recruited around 200 boys in adjoining Zaingir belt that links volatile Sopore town with Bandipore and frontier Kupwara. The police reports suggest that they have credible inputs that five missing boys from Awantipora police district have joined militant ranks.
Qamarwari,too,witnessed stone throwing protests through the summer.
On Monday,militants are said to have come on a motorbike and when a police party,which had prior information about their arrival,accosted them,they reportedly opened fire killing constable Shabir Ahmad.
In quick retaliation,the police is said to have fired at the militants killing all three of them.
Constable Ahmad,a resident of Lar area in Ganderbal district,had joined the police services in 1997. He was posted at the Qamarwari police post. He is survived by his parents,wife and two children.
A civilian,Muhammad Maqbool Bhat,was also injured in the cross-fire.
Inspector General of Police S M Sahai,who addressed a press conference jointly with the Army,said the police had recovered some ammunition and a grenade from the spot.
In October,three militants of Jaish-e-Muhammad were killed in an encounter at Maloora,five km from Qamarwari.
On November 27,the Army killed two militants at Moldari Wadder forests of Handwara who were identified at Mondays press conference as North Kashmirs divisional commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba Abdul Rehman and another as Muslim Bhai,also of LeT and a Pakistani national.