Tral encounter comes in the aftermath of the killing of its south Kashmir chief; four terrorists killed in day-long operation

A policeman and the two militants belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad, who were killed in an encounter in Awantipora district on Tuesday, were from the same locality in Tral in south Kashmir.

After a day-long operation, security forces killed four JeM terrorists who were hiding in the forests in the Awantipora area.

The militants who were killed in the operation were identified as Umar Khalid, Yasir, Ishfaq Ahmad Khan and Abid Maqbool.

While Khalid and Yasir were from Pakistan, Khan and Maqbool were from Tral.

An official said that the policeman, Latif Gojri, was also from Tral.

Timed Attack?

The operation against JeM members coincided with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Beijing in the run-up to the SCO summit to be held in June.

China has repeatedly blocked India’s bid at the UN to designate Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist.

New Commander

The police said that after JeM commander Mufti Waqas was killed in an encounter on March 6, another Pakistani, Umar Khalid, was designated as the outfit’s commander for south Kashmir.

Waqas was responsible for the terror attack at the Sunjuwan Army base in Jammu.

An official in the security establishment said that Khan joined the outfit in March 2017 and Maqbool joined them in March, days after Waqas was killed.

The official said that Khan tried to stab a policeman in Pampore in 2014 and was put in jail under the Public Safety Act.

“After his release from jail, he joined JeM in 2017. Maqbool had been an overground worker for the JeM for the past two years but became an active member in March this year,” the official said.

Twin Infiltrators

Khalid and Yasir had infiltrated into the Valley.

The official said that Khalid was mostly active in the Lolab area before moving base to Keller and Tral in south Kashmir.

An official explained that JeM had been trying to carry out spectacular attacks in the Valley ever since their commander Waqas was killed in an encounter in March.

“They had been operating out of this base for more than a month and the operation was carried out on the basis of precise intelligence,” said the official.