A special team of the Jammu and Kashmir police had been tracking India’s most wanted for months. But every time they came close, the managed to give them a slip. On early Tuesday, they did not take any chances. The intelligence was impeccable; the Lashkar commander known to frequent a house reportedly had been spotted in the vicinity. Once the gunfight started, the operation took no more than four hours.
The 28-year-old terrorist from Pakistan had been operating for seven years, a long time for a terrorist in Kashmir. Most area commanders do not last beyond 2-3 years. Last year, he planned his deadliest attack: an ambush of Central Reserve Police Force personnel that killed eight security personnel.
“He was the longest living foreign terrorist who always gave us a slip but we finally got the better of him,” a senior police officer told NDTV.
Senior security officials credit a core team that has been focusing taking out the leadership of the region’s terror outfits.
This team has been responsible for most of the three dozen leaders of terror outfits killed in south Kashmir this year. “We knew thatwho was a high value target for us was in which house,” said a police officer, pointing that the special team set up earlier this year comprised young officers “who only work on area commanders of various outfits”.
It is a team that had been in the making for quite some time. But reports that the terror groups planned to take complete charge of some parts of south Kashmir earlier this year forced the police to get started.
In seven months, 39 terrorists have been eliminated in this region alone.
In May this year, security forces shot down Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander, in an encounter in Pulwama’s Tral area. Sabzar Ahmad Bhat was widely believed to have succeeded Burhan Wani, whose killing last year sparked months-long unrest and violence in Kashmir.
Then in June this year Lashkar commander Junaid Mattoo was killed. Then subsequently in July another Lashkar commander Bashir Lashkari was bumped off based on input of JKP.
“There were two factions of Lashkar in Pulwama,and Ayub Lone, both are so-called commanders. We have been trying to locate both of them. Today we managed to get Dujana,” reveals another officer.
In contrast to, Ayub Lone was a local.
But the police have a long way to go. Officials estimate that south Kashmir alone has 90 to 100 active terrorists, and the Kashmir valley, about 250.