In a major success on the eve of Republic Day, security forces on Saturday killed three terrorists including the self-styled Kashmir chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad Qari Yasir, who was involved in last year's Pulwama attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel died, police and army officers said.
Addressing a joint press conference, General-Officer-Commanding of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lieutenant General K J S Dhillon and Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the terrorist group was planning a major attack on the Republic Day, which has now been averted.
"We have neutralised three militants in the Tral encounter and one of them is Qari Yasir who was a self-styled Kashmir chief of JeM. He was involved in last year's February (IED) blast and also Lethpora (IED) blast.
"He was an IED expert and was involved in recruitment as well as relocation of militants coming in from Pakistan," Kumar said.
Three army personnel were injured in the initial firing and have been hospitalised.
The IGP said the police had been getting regular inputs about an IED attack in Srinagar or its surroundings.
"We were getting the names of Burhan and Yasir. Moosa, a buddy and a second-in-command of Yasir was also with him and we are sure once we identify the bodies, one of them will be Yasir as we had inputs about his presence there," he said, adding Yasir and Moosa belong to Pakistan, while Burhan was a local.
Lt Gen Dhillon said with the killing of the three terrorists 'a major incident on January 26 has been averted'.
"The JeM module was active and was planning to do something sensational on the Republic day," he said.
He said the operation was still on.
The GoC said after last year's Pulwama attack, the JeM leadership was targeted and neutralised totally, but the group was trying to resuscitate itself.
"Pakistani terrorists were coming and they were trying to revive Jaish... But Jaish has now been cleaned out yet again once for all as of today. As regards, the HM, its top leadership has also been eliminated in Kashmir valley.
"The leadership of Al-Badr and Lashkar-e-Taiba was non-existent. So, as of today, most of the leadership of terrorism in Kashmir, including Pakistani terrorists, is more or less eliminated," he said.
On a question of the number of militants in the valley, the IGP said about 125 terrorists were active in the valley, mostly locals.
Asked about the infiltration along the Line of Control, the GoC said Pakistan and its army was trying to infiltrate more militants into India.
"But our Army is giving them a befitting reply. Not only the Pakistani terrorists, but Pakistani army has suffered so much losses that on December 27 (last year) Pakistani DGMO requested Indian DGMO to minimize the offensive.
"Our DGMO accepted the Pakistani request, but Pakistan has not mended its ways and is still infiltrating terrorists," Lt Gen Dhillon said.
He said the ceasefire violations were taking place on the LoC and the army was giving a befitting reply to the Pakistani aggression.
"There are terrorists at the launch pads across the LoC and they are trying to infiltrate terrorists, but we are foiling their attempts," the Army officer said.