Three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, including the oldest surviving ultra of the outfit, were killed in an encounter with security forces near the route of the annual Amarnath Yatra in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, the police said.
A police spokesman said security forces arrested a terrorist of the HM outfit identified as Mohammad Ishfaq Shergojri, resident of Nowgam Verinag, during a cordon and search operation at Kokernag area of Anantnag on Thursday.
"During the sustained interrogation of the arrested terrorist, leads were developed and several CASOs were conducted in various areas of Anantnag," he said.
One such CASO was launched in the forest area of Sirchan Top (East of Batkot Pahalgam) area of Anantnag. The operation turned into an encounter after the hiding terrorists fired at the security forces, the spokesman said.
Three terrorists of proscribed terror outfit HM were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter, he said.
He identified the slain ultras as Mohammad Ashraf Khan alias Ashraf Molvi/Mansoor-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rafiq Drangay, and Roshan Zameer Tantray alias Aqib.
"According to the police records, all the three categorized killed terrorists were part of groups involved in several terror crime cases including attacks on police/security forces and civilian atrocities," he said.
Khan was the oldest surviving terrorist of Hizb and figured among the list of most wanted terrorists after recycling in the year 2013, the spokesman said.
He had a long history of terror crime cases which include attacks on police/SFs and civilian atrocities and was involved in several killings including of policemen and civilians. Besides, he was also well trained in fabricating and planting of IEDs as he had crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in 1999 to get illegal arms training and join terror folds, said the official
"He was also instrumental in reviving the terror folds of Hizb in Anantnag by recruiting the gullible youth into terror folds. Moreover, terrorists killed Sarpanch Ghulam Rasool Dar and his wife Jawahara Begum at Lal Chowk Anantnag in August 2021 on his directions," the spokesman said.
Tantray was active since 2018 and was involved in several terror crime cases including killings of policemen and civilians and truck driver Narayan Dutt, resident of Sara Kotla Katra Reasi who was loading apple in his truck at Fruit Mandi Kanalwan.
Drangay was active since 2019 and involved in several terror crime cases including killings of ASI Mohammad Ashraf near Bijbehara Police Station in December last year and Head Constable Ali Mohammad Ganie at Hasanpora Tabeela in January this year.
"Incriminating materials, huge cache of arms and ammunition were also recovered from the site of the encounter. In this connection, police have registered a case under relevant sections of law and investigation has been initiated," the spokesman said.
IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar has congratulated the joint team of forces for neutralizing the most wanted terrorists and conducting operation in a professional manner without any collateral damage.
Kumar also termed the operation as a "major success" as the site of operation was close to Amarnath Yatra route "which indicates that the killed terrorists were eyeing to target Amarnath Yatra-2022".
Pahalgam, the famous tourist destination in south Kashmir, also serves as one of the base camps for the yatra, which is scheduled to start from June 30 after a gap of two years.