LeT terrorist Naveed Jatt is seen minutes before he escaped from a hospital in Srinagar

SRINAGAR: Top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Naveed Jatt was killed along with his associate in an encounter in Budgam district of central Kashmir, during which three army men were injured as well.

Jatt, police claim hails from Multan in Pakistan and was part of the group of Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged for his involvement in Mumbai attacks, at the Madrasa. He had crossed over to Valley in 2012 along with an associate and was involved in several attacks till 2014, when he was arrested. However, on February 6 this year, he managed to escape from custody from Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, where he was brought for treatment from central jail of Srinagar. Two policemen were killed during his escapade.

According to police he also figured as suspects in the killings of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was murdered outside his Rising Kashmir newspaper office in Press Enclave on Residency Road in Srinagar. J&K police stated that they will approach Government of India for taking up the matter with Pakistan for handing over Jatt’s body. Jatt was last seen during a funeral of militant in southern Kashmir, where he also paid gun salute to his comrades. He had recently uploaded a video on Internet, showing him walking during snowfall in a forest area.

J&K police chief Dilbag Singh termed the killing as great success saying that in the past week, militants involved in murder of civilians--who were accused of being informers of police and army--were killed.

The killing of Jatt is a major blow for militant groups including LeT, as most of their top commanders were killed in past three months. In the month of November, the armed forces have killed around 37 militants, which is highest this year.

The armed forces have managed to kill around 230 militants this year till now, which included some of the top commanders of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, LeT and Jaish-e-Muhammad.

“Naveed alias Hanzulla was a terrorist from Pakistan. His name had emerged in the murder of journalist Shujaat Bukhari. He was active on social media. We will soon neutralise other commanders as well,” Lt Gen A K Bhatt, GoC of Srinagar based Army’s 15 Corps told reporters.

J&K police sources said that they had managed to access a recent video chat of Jatt, which helped them to join the dots and finally track him to a residence of Budgam. The armed forces also launched massive crackdown of over ground workers of militants for past few months crippling the movement of militants.

J&K police officials, who have met or interrogated Jutt claim that he was a dangerous militant and was aware of informer network of the police at a much microscopic level.

“He could disassemble and reassemble an AK-47 rifle blindfolded. He had reiterated to many officials that he would always be a militant,” a senior official had told ET when he managed to flee from the hospital.

He was close aide of LeT commanders Rehman and Abu Qasim and was the main operational militant in their ranks. More recently he was close to Dada, a militant commander killed last week and was in touch with Riyaz Naikoo of HM as well.