Top Hizbul commander, associate killed in Kashmir

Top Hizbul commander, associate killed in Kashmir

Two Hizbul-Mujahideen militants, including top commander Altaf Kachroo, were killed in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Wednesday.

Killing of Kachroo, a resident of Kulgam district, is seen as a major setback for Hizbul as he was one of the few top commanders in A++ category and had escaped several times from security cordons in the past.

The encounter broke out at around 5 am on Wednesday in Muniward, Khanabal in Anantnag, 52 km from Srinagar, after army, police and paramilitary CRPF launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) in the area.

The exchange of fire continued for few hours after which security forces used explosives to blast the houses where the militants were hiding, reports said.

The bodies of militants were charred due to the blasts at the encounter site. 

State police chief Shesh Pal Vaid tweeted: “Anantnag encounter completed, two bodies of terrorists along with two weapons recovered from the site. A clean operation with precision.”

A resident of Redwani village in Kulgam, Kachroo, who carried a reward of Rs 15 lakh on his head, featured among the top few in the list of 21 most wanted militants, government of India released earlier this year.

He was one of the longest surviving militants in Kashmir and carried reward money of Rs 12.5 lakh on his head. Kachroo was arrested twice and after his second release in 2011, he rejoined militancy and was instrumental in recruiting local youths into militancy in southern Kashmir, police said. 

The other slain militant was identified as Umar Rashid Wani of Khudwani area of Kulgam, who according to police, had escaped from a gunfight in Batmaloo area of Srinagar earlier this month.

Police sees Kachroo’s killing as a major success in the anti-militancy operations in south Kashmir as he was involved in several attacks on security establishment.

Reports said as soon the news of encounter broke in the area large number of locals came out on the roads and threw stones at security forces to help the militants escape.

They said the forces fired tear gas and pellets to chase away the protesters who were pelting them with stones. Local media reported that over 40 people were injured in the clashes.

Quoting a health official at sub-district hospital Qaimoh, Greater Kashmir newspaper reported that 45 injured were brought to the facility for treatment.

It also reported that over a dozen militants appeared at the funeral of Kachroo at his native Mishipora village in Kulgam and offered a gun-salute. 

This year till now, over 130 militants have been killed during various counter-insurgency operations by the security forces across Kashmir.

However, over 128 locals have joined militant ranks across the state this year till now.