Two Hizbul militants killed in Pulwama encounter

PTI file photo

Two local militants affiliated with the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.

The encounter began at Drabgam village in Pulwama, 32 km from here, on Monday evening, after Army had laid an ambush, reports said. The Army challenged them, leading to a brief shoot out in which one militant was killed.

“One militant fled from the spot and took shelter in a house in an orchard. He was neutralized on Tuesday morning,” a police official told DH.

He identified the slain as Irfan Naira, a category 'A' militant, active since 2016 and Irfan Rather, active since 2017. Both were believed to be close associates of Hizbul operational chief Riyaz Naikoo.

He said the operation was going on as it is suspected that more militants were present in the area.

Since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 and subsequent restrictions and spontaneous shutdown in Kashmir, there has been a decrease in encounters between militants and security forces. While over 135 militants were killed in the first seven months this year, 18 ultras have been neutralized in nine encounters since August first week.

The source network of army and police had almost become defunct due to the snapping of mobile and internet services. A senior police officer involved in counter-insurgency operations told DH that the communication blockade was one of the reasons for a less number of militants being killed.

“In the absence of mobile services, the flow of information from our sources had almost dried up. Now since last month, when the post-paid mobile services were restored, some inputs about the movement of militants have started to come and in the coming weeks, the frequency of encounter with militants will increase,” he revealed.

The officer said that another reason for lesser number of militants being killed was a considerable drop in local recruitment into militancy this year. From January 2019 to October 15, only 39 local youth joined the militancy, out of which six later returned home and are living a normal life.

However, sources said, while the local recruitment had gone down this year, dozens of battle-hardened Pakistani militants have infiltrated into Kashmir in the last three months. After the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan reportedly reactivated launch pads and terror camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

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