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J&K: Oldest Surviving Militant Among 3 Killed Near Amarnath Yatra Route

Anees Zargar |
The killing of the three militants comes a day after a joint team of police and 19 RR of the Army launched a cordon and search operation in Batkoot forests.
Image Courtesy: Reuters

Image Courtesy: Reuters

Srinagar: Three militants, including one of the oldest surviving members of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, were killed in an encounter that broke out in the forests of Srichand Top close to the Amarnath Yatra route in the Pahalgam area of Anantnag district on Friday.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir police, who, along with the Indian Army and paramilitary troopers, carried out the operation, Mohd Ashraf Khan, also known as Ashraf Molvi, was killed during the gunfight. His killing was confirmed by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar.

"Ashraf Molvi (one of oldest surviving terrorists of HM terror outfit) along with two other terrorists killed. Successful operation on the yatra route is a major success for us," IGP Kashmir said.

Molvi, a resident of South Kashmir’s Tengpawa village of Kokernag area, had joined Hizb in 2013 and was amongst the top wanted militants in the region. The killing of the three militants comes a day after a joint team of police and 19 RR of the Army launched a cordon and search operation in Batkoot forests.

The two other militants who were killed, along with Molvi, an A++ category militant, were identified by police as Roshan Zameer and Rafiq Ahmad – both residents of South Kashmir's Anantnag.

The encounter also ensued a day after security forces arrested an active Hizbul militant identified as Mohammad Ishaq Shergojri of Nowgam village of Verinag on Thursday. He has been active since September 2017.

Molvi, according to sources, joined militant ranks more than once, and his first affiliation with militancy is believed to be more than 20 years old. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Moulvi was believed to have received his training from Pakistan and had been instrumental in handling militancy in several south Kashmir areas.

Hizbul Mujahideen, the valley's erstwhile strongest and oldest militant outfit, was key in reviving militancy in South Kashmir areas since 2015, a time when its top commander Burhan Wani's popularity led to massive recruitments in the next few years. The outfit, however, from the past two years, has almost been wiped out, with only its top commanders Zubair Wani and Farooq Nalli surviving as its key members.

The security establishment says that the surviving rate of militants has decreased “drastically” as over 30 militants were killed within three months of their joining militancy.

As many as 65 militants have been killed so far in 2022, including 39 from the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), 15 from the Jaish e Mohammad (JeM), and nine from Hizb two from the Al-Badr outfit. According to the police data, about 50 were locals, and 15 foreigners from Pakistan were amongst the slain.

Even as the militancy appears to be waning, there are apprehensions within the security establishment that the militant groups are aiming to disrupt the Amarnath yatra – which is expected to begin on June 30.

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