5 Militants Killed In Bandipore Gunbattles
18 September 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: In a major achievement, Police and security forces today claimed to have killed five top wanted militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen organisations in two separate gunbattles in Bandipore even as a manhunt has been launched to get the prize catch, Amanullah Bukhari. IGP Kashmir, Shiv Mohan Sahai, told EXCELSIOR that Jammu and Police launched a search operation alongwith a column of Rashtriya Rifles 57 Bn at Khayyar village in Bandipore last evening. He said that according to the specific information available with Police three of the top wanted militants of Jaish-e- Mohammad, led by the most wanted Amanullah Bukhari of Punjab, Pakistan, were hiding at a house. Late in the night, men of SOG Bandipore unit and RR 57 Bn swooped on the hideout and gunned down two heavily armed militants in a lightning strike. They were identified as Mohammad Tariq Khan alias Sajid S-o Shah Mohammad Khan R-o Tradkhal, PoK, and Mohammad Abu Bakr Ayayee alias Usman S-o Mohammad Iqbal Ayayee R-o Kabirwallah, Khandwal, Punjab, Pakistan. Two AK-56 rifles, two hand grenades and a large quantity of arms and ammunition were seized at the site of the encounter. Bukhari managed to escape. Civilian sources in Bandipore, however, said that all the three Jaish militants were trapped and security forces later declared to have killed two militants. They insisted that Bukhari too had landed in the custody of Police and Army. They said that Amanullah Bukhari was a dreaded militant, believed to be responsible for scores of civilian killings. They said that Bukhari had landed in Bandipore area and joined Jaish-e-Mohammad after working as a functionary of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Suhaba for several years in Pakistan. He was also believed to have worked for Maulana Masood Azhar's Jaish-e-Mohammad in New Delhi and other Indian cities. Official sources in north Kashmir said that Police and security forces were well on the track of Amanullah Bukhari who had managed to escape in Khayyar and was expected to be arrested or eliminated in a possible encounter in the next 24 hours. These sources said that in the wee hours today, Bandipore Police and troops of Rashtriya Rifles 14 Bn launched another search operation on the basis of a specific information in Kudara forest area in Bandipore. According to the tip off, three local cadres of Hizbul Mujahideen were present at a hideout. Men of SOG unit Bandipore and columns of RR 14 Bn swooped on the hideout and killed all the three holed up militants. They were later identified as Farooq Ahmed Khan Piswal @ Akram S-o Dara Khan, Shahjahan Khan @ Waqas S-o Kala Khan, residents of Kudara, and Mushtaq Ahmed Khan alias Janbaz S-o Mohammad Zaman Khan R-o Choontimullah, Bandipore. Three AK-56 Rifles, 6 magazines, 117 rounds of ammunition, 2 hand grenades, one radio set and other war like equipments were claimed to have been recovered from possession of the militants killed. Even as IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, maintained that the operation at Khayyar, in Bandipore, was exclusively conducted by Police and Army, Joint Commissioner of Special Cell in New Delhi, Karnal Singh, told mediapersons that the same was conducted by Delhi Police in Bandipore. He said that the 22-year-old Jaish militants, Abu Bakr alias Usman and Tariq Mohammad, were killed but Amanullah Bukhari alias Chachu managed to escape. 'We had received a tip off on Amanullah, which was corroborated by the intelligence agencies, after which a team was sent (to Kashmir) yesterday', Singh said. He said that Amanullah was a 'District Commander' of his organisation in Bandipore and he had been operating in that area since last few years. He said that Amanullah's name had cropped up during the course of the sustained interrogation of two Jaish militants in the Union Capital in 2005 and Delhi Police had been looking for him with a warrant of arrest from court. The militant duo, he said, had been arrested in Kailash Colony. Delhi Police claimed that a team of Special Cell members had tracked the movement of Bukhari in Bandipore, an input corroborated by the intelligence agencies. It claimed that a DP team was camping at base headquarters of the Army unit while the RR personnel engaged the militants. It went on to claim that the same team had tipped off 'counterparts in Kashmir' about the movement of Bukhari during last night. While Defence spokesman, Lt Col A K Mathur, said in a statement that the operation was conducted by troops of RR 57 Bn and Police, IGP Kashmir Sahai said that J&K Police had no official communication regarding the presence of any Delhi Police team in Valley. He said that the operation was conducted jointly by Bandipore Police and Army over a specific information available with Police. Yet another J&K Police official said that there was no question of Delhi Police having participated in the gunbattle as no other state's Police was authorised by law to carry arms or participate in combat operations in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that two Kashmiri Muslim constables of SOG unit Bandipore sneaked into the hideout and gunned down both the militants in a surgical strike. Both the constables, he said, were being recommended for gallantry award and out-of-turn rank promotion. He said that SOG Bandipore was well on the track of the prize catch Bukhari who could be arrested or killed in a possible encounter any moment.