Hizb 'District Commander' killed in Tral
7 May 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: In a joint operation, police and security forces have eliminated one of Pulwama district's most wanted militants and 'District Commander' of Hizbul Mujahideen, Mushtaq Ahmed Bhat alias Gowhar, in Noorpora village of Tral early this morning. According to official sources, Gowhar had been operating as a dreaded militant since 1990 and he was responsible for over 50 killings and a large number of IED blasts in Central Kashmir. Official told the EXCELSIOR that over a specific information, SOG Tral and troops of 3 Para laid an ambush at Noorpora in Tral area late last night. When at about 0345 hours a holed up militant opened fire and tried to escape, he was killed in a brief gunfight. He was identified as Mushtaq Ahmed Bhat alias Gowhar S-o Abdul Majeed Bhat R-o Quil Shikargah, Tral. According to these sources, Gowhar had been appointed as Hizbul Mujahideen's 'District Commander' for Anantnag after the most wanted Shabir Bidaoori got killed in an encounter with Army in 2005. Official sources said that Gowhar had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 1990 and returned to Valley in 1991 after taking guerrilla training at a camp in PoK. He played a key role in establishing and operating Hizbul Mujahideen's radio communication network for about five years. Thereafter he excelled in fabricating IEDs and making car bomb blasts, mostly on main roads and Jammu-Srinagar highway. Officials claimed that Gowhar was responsible for over 50 identified killings of civilians and Police personnel besides a number of troopers in IED blasts. A senior official said that it was impossible to count the number of people in whose killing Gowhar was directly or indirectly responsible for the last 16 years. He said that Gowhar's last confirmed killing was that of Shabir Ahmed Najar at Lurgam in Tral on April 18th, 2006. According to official records, Gowhar was prominently involved in last year's car bomb explosions and landmine blasts at Jawahar Nagar, Burn Hall School, Nishat, Pulwama and Bemina. He had allegedly beheaded a Gujjar couple in Tral area in 2004 and also slaughtered a Police constable. Interestingly, inspite of being one of the most wanted militants in Tral-Awantipora belt for the last 16 years, Gowhar had been living at his acquired house in Yachh Nambal Zaffran Colony in Pampore outskirts with his wife and two children for the last few years. He had always identified himself as a constable of JKAP 9th Bn and would often move in Police uniform. Official sources said that a Bolero had been lifting him in the morning and dropping him back at his home in the evening. He was known for his expertise in fabricating and laying IEDs. Officials claimed that Gowhar's killing was a major achievement for Police and security forces as also a remarkable setback for Hizbul Mujahideen. These sources revealed that Suhail Faisal, Rayees Kachroo, Shabnam and Hanief were now the most wanted militants in Pulwama-Tral belt. Even as officials claimed that Gowhar got killed in an ambush in Noorpora, Hizbul Mujahideen's spokesman Junaid-ul-Islam told the local news agencies over telephone that the militant commander had been arrested in Batmaloo area of Srinagar on Saturday and was later eliminated in a fake encounter in Tral . Meanwhile, reports from south Kashmir added that unidentified gunmen, believed to be militants, appeared at Harmain in Shopian area and they kidnapped a released militant, namely Javed Ahmed Shah S-o Mohammad Amin Shah R-o Nadigund , late last night. His bullet-riddled body was spotted and recovered in nearby fields. Reports said that Police also recovered an unidentified bullet-riddled body from forest area in Qazigund today. Militants shot dead two former Associates Zubair Khan of Ajas Bandipur and Javed Shah of Harmain, Pulwama, outside their houses. A young woman's dead body has been recovered at Hamray in Pattan area today. She seemed to have been hanged to death. She has been identified as 22 year old Yasmeena, D-o Mohd Ashraf of Hamray. Police also recovered a decomposed body of a man from Thatoo Kund, Anantnag. Meanwhile, in a joint operation Army and Police today claimed to have apprehended three top functionaries of Al-Umar Mujahideen outfit in north Kashmir. Official sources identified the trio as Nazir Ahmed Ganai alias Nazir Cobra, Bashir Ahmed Bhat S-o Abdul Samad Bhat and Mushtaq Ahmed Rather. Sources claimed that Nazir Cobra was Al-Umar's 'Chief of Operations' in Kashmir valley. Bashir Ahmed Bhat, a Unani doctor from Sopore, was described as a 'senior coordinator of operations' for the outfit. Mushtaq Ahmed Rather, a lecturer in a Srinagar college, was allegedly a close associate in planning and execution of operations of the outfit in the Valley. Nazir Cobra also owns a shop in Srinagar. Official handout said that a large number of fake identity cards and incriminating documents were recovered from the possession of the detained militant cadres.