Srinagar: The armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday said that they have killed a top commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit, known as Saifullah, along with an unidentified associate in an operation at Nagberan area of Dachigam forest.
A high-ranking Army officer termed the killing of the top militant with codenames Saifullah and Lambu as the biggest achievement against insurgency this year in the region. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar said the slain Jaish militant was involved in the conspiracy and planning of deadly Lethpora attack that claimed the lives of around 40 CRPF men in 2019.
“He was involved in the conspiracy and planning of the Lethpora Pulwama attack and figured in a chargesheet produced by the NIA,” the IGP Kashmir said.
Speaking to media in Srinagar, IGP Vijay Kumar added that he is the seventh militant from the 19 militants who were involved in the Lethpora incident. “Seven militants have been arrested and there are five more who we are after, with Sameer Dar being the top most wanted. Maybe he was killed today but we haven't been able to identify the body yet,” IGP Kumar said.
Saifullah, whose real name, according to the officials, was Mohd Ismail Alvi, was related to Jaish’s founder Masood Azhar. He had infiltrated the Kashmir valley in January 2017 and had been active ever since, especially in South Kashmir. The police have as many as 14 FIRs against him and was the “main accused” in the Pulwama attack.
Lt General DP Pandey, who is the General-Officer-Commanding of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, said the Saifullah was “responsible for training militants in making IEDs and deploying them against security forces.”
Another security official told NewsClick that Saifullah had earned more notoriety in the past few years and was more active as compared to another top Jaish militant Ghazi Rashid, an Afghan war veteran believed to have been active in the valley for some time.
As many as 89 militants have been killed this year so far, of which seven were foreign nationals. Even though the number of militants killed in 2020 were higher, the police claim that this year they have been successful in killing top commanders of various outfits active in the valley. There are around 200-225 militants active in the region currently, as compared to the average 300-325 militants in the past few years.
A majority of these militants belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and The Resistance Front (TRF) – also referred to as LeTs Front. In 2020, as many as 225 militants were reportedly killed in the region, of which 86 locals belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, 25 locals and 10 foreigners belonged to Jaish outfit, while 40 locals and three foreigners belonged to LeT.
“There have been no reported infiltrations in the region this year so far. But, we have some information of one or two incidents and we have launched operations against them, but the ground inputs from Kashmir valley suggest no such incidents,” Lt Gen DP Pandey said.
The dip in infiltration comes at a time when both India and Pakistan have agreed on a ceasefire along the de facto Line of Control. Pandey, however, added there are concerns about the security situation in Kashmir as Afghan Taliban continues to gain ground in the war-torn country in the aftermath of the US pull-out.