Longest surviving Hizb militant, two associates killed in Pahalgam encounter

Pahalgam: The Jammu and Kashmir Police and Army Friday killed Muhammad Ashraf Khan alias Ashraf Moulvi, Hizbul Mujahideen commander and one of the longest surviving militants in Kashmir, and his two associates in a four-hour encounter in the Batkoot forests, 15 km short of Pahalgam in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Police sources said that a large-scale operation was launched in south Kashmir after reports of militant presence in Batkoot-Sirchin forests. Three militants including Ashraf Molvi were killed in the encounter.

Molvi had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2013. Molvi as per police was experienced in handling organizational structure and building an overground network. His killing would come as a big setback to the outfit, said police.

Ashraf Molvi, police said, was a wanted militant in the Valley and was on the list of top 10 across all militant outfits.

Divulging information about the encounter, a police spokesperson said that yesterday Anantnag Police along with Army (19RR) arrested a Hizb militant Muhammad Ishfaq Shergojri resident of Nowgam Verinag during a CASO at Kokernag area of Anantnag. During the sustained interrogation, leads were developed and several CASOs were conducted in various areas of Anantnag.

One of such joint cordon and search operations launched in forest area of Sirchan.

During the operation, as the joint party proceeded towards the suspected spot the hiding militants fired on the joint party which was retaliated leading to an encounter. In the ensuing encounter, 3 militants of proscribed militant outfit HM were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter. They have been identified as Muhammad Ashraf Khan alias Ashraf Molvi aliasMansoor ul Haq, MuhammadRafiq Drangay and Roshan Zameer Tantray alias Aquib.

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As per police records, all the three categorized killed militants were part of groups involved in several militancy related incidents.

Molvi was the oldest surviving militant of Hizb and figured among the list of most-wanted militants after recycling in year 2013. He had a long history of militant cases and was involved in the killings of Ct Imtiyaz Ahmad at Bus Stand Anantnag on 09/09/2017, Mohd Saleem Dar resident of Larkipora, Fatehpora Anantnag on 02/04/2020, ASI Mohammad Ashraf near Police Station Bijbehara on 22/12/2021, HC Ali Mohd Ganie at Hasanpora Tabeela on 29/01/2022. Besides, he was also well trained in fabricating and planting of IEDs as he had crossed over to PaK in year 1999 to get illegal arms training and join militant folds. He was also instrumental in reviving the militant folds of Hizb in Anantnag by recruiting the youth into militant ranks. Moreover, on his directions militants killed Sarpanch Ghulam Rasool Dar and his wife Jawahara Begum at Lal Chowk Anantnag on 09/08/2021.

Similarly, the killed militant Roshan Zameer Tantray was active since year 2018 and was involved in the killings of Mohd Saleem Dar resident of Larkipora, Fatehpora Anantnag on 02/04/2020, ASI Mohammad Ashraf near Police Station Bijbehara on 22/12/2021, HC Ali Mohd Ganie at Hasanpora Tabeela on 29/01/2022. He was also involved in killing of a truck driver namely Narayan Dutt resident of Sara Kotla Katra Reasi who was loading apples in his truck bearing registration No. JK02AQ-6571 at Fruit Mandi Kanalwan.

Moreover, the killed militant Mohd Rafiq Drangay was active since year 2019 and involved in the killings of ASI Mohammad Ashraf near Police Station Bijbehara on 22/12/2021 and HC Ali Mohd Ganie at Hasanpora Tabeela on 29/01/2022.

Incriminating materials, a huge cache of arms and ammunition were also recovered from the site of encounter. In this connection, Police has registered a case under relevant sections of law and investigation has been initiated.

IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar congratulated joint team for neutralizing the most wanted militants and conducting operation in a professional manner without any collateral damage. He also termed this operation as a major success as the site of operation is close to Yatra route which indicates that the killed militants were eyeing to target Amarnath Yatra-2022. (KNT)

Neyaz Elahi

Neyaz Elahi, who switched from Electronic to Print Media is a Kashmir based Accredited Journalist who has written extensively on Kashmir for local, national and international web portals. He is currently associated with Srinagar based News Agency Kashmir News Trust (KNT).

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