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LeT’s Naveed Jhatt among 2 militants killed

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The slain was named as suspect in Shujaat Bukhari’s murder: Police

As the encounter was over in Chattergam, in Budgam, where two militants were killed, locals rushed to the encounter site. Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Nov 28: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Naveed Jhatt was among the two militants killed in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Wednesday, police said.

Three Army personnel were injured in the encounter that claimed the life of the Jhatt “who had slipped away from the police dragnet at least six times and was involved in multiple attacks in the Valley over the years,” police said.

The LeT militant was a Pakistani national and due process would be followed, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said.

“We’ll be writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs to inform Pakistan to take the body,” Singh told a presser after the encounter ended.

The encounter in which Jhatt, alias Hanzalla, was killed started in the early hours of Wednesday when Special Operations Group (SOG) of police cordoned off a house at Kuthpora Chattergam area of Budgam following an intelligence input about the presence of militants, officials said.

A gun-battle broke out when those holed up inside the house fired at the government forces, they said, detailing the events leading to Jhatt’s killing. The forces retaliated and the firing intensified as the militants moved from one house to another.

“The operation was interrupted when locals cried for help from one of the houses and had to be evacuated. During this process, the militants fired at the police and army teams, leading to minor injuries to the armymen who were shifted to hospital,” officials said.

At daybreak, two militants were killed. They were identified when government forces started clearing and sanitising the area. One of them turned out to be Jhatt, who was known as a commander of the proscribed militant outfit LeT and staged a dramatic escape from SMHS Hospital here in February this year.

“It was swift operation carried out by security forces. We finally got the prize catch Naveed Jhatt, who was a Pakistani national,” DGP Singh said.

“He has managed to give us the slip in six different encounters but today our boys managed to pin him down,” the DGP added.

Jhatt was wanted for his alleged complicity in a series of militancy incidents, “including the killing of noted journalist Shujaat Bukhari in June, attacks on security establishments and many other civilian atrocities,” police said.

According to disclosures he made earlier, Jhatt, alias Jhutt alias Abu Hanzalla, was born in Multan in Pakistan and was part of a madrassa in the neighbouring country where he had undergone arms training.

“The militant had undergone intensive training and was good in handling equipment like compasses, GPS, wireless sets and mobile phones installed with Skype software,” an official said.

Jhatt and his associates crossed over into Kashmir Valley in October 2012, state police records.

“The 22-year-old school dropout from Pakistan was involved in multiple attacks, including an attack on the Army in Hyderpora in Srinagar, an attack on the Silver Star hotel along the national highway outside the city and three attacks on police and CRPF camps in south Kashmir,” police said.

“He was involved in the killing of an ASI in Pulwama on May 2013, a series of grenade attacks on security forces and the killing of CRPF personnel at Awneera Shopian in August 2013,” officials said, giving details.

“Besides, he was also involved in conspiring and executing several bank robberies and terror attacks in south Kashmir. These include the attack on a court complex in Pulwama on March 2014 in which two policemen were killed and the strike against a polling party in Shopian the following month in which a presiding official, Zai-ul-Haq Wani, was killed and several civilians injured. He was also believed to be involved in an attack on a police team in Bongam Shopian on June 2014 in which several civilians and policemen were injured,” police said.

Jhatt escaped from SMHS Hospital on February 06 after he was caught in Kulgam in south Kashmir in 2014. He was moved to hospital with suspected scabies after complaining of itchiness to the medical staff at the Central Jail Srinagar.

Jammu and Kashmir Police wanted to shift him along with five other prisoners from Srinagar central jail to other high security jails outside the Valley but was disallowed from doing so by the Sessions court on December 26, 2017.

Meanwhile, several persons were injured during clashes with the government forces near the encounter site in Kuthipora village of Chattergam.

Reports said scores of youth took to streets after the news of gunfight spread in the area.

They said that the forces fired pellets and tear-gas shells to disperse the protesting youth.

Reports added said two CRPF personnel were also injured in the clashes.

During the clashes, several youth suffered injuries and have been referred to Srinagar hospital for treatment.

Militant seen emerging alive from rubble; video goes viral

Srinagar, Nov 28: A militant on Wednesday survived the gunfight and emerged unharmed from the rubble of a house which was badly damaged by explosives in Chattergam area of Budgam district where two militants including LeT commander Naved Jhatt were killed.

A purported video recorded in the aftermath of the gunfight showed a militant armed with an assault rifle being whisked away by youth who had gathered at the house.

The video has since gone viral on social media and other messaging platforms.

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