Saifullah among 5 militants killed in Shopian
17 January 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: In a major achievement, Police and security forces have eliminated five important militants of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, including Shopian area's most wanted militant of the day Bilal Ahmed Sheikh alias Saifullah. Forces have also recovered both the SLRs which had been looted by militants from a Police picket in Shopian area on January 12. Informed sources in south Kashmir told the Excelsior that both the militants holed up at the residence of a Congress party's councilor at Shopian were found dead in the rubble of the destroyed house today. As already reported, two militants, including Harkat-ul- Mujahideen's most wanted commander in Shopian, Bilal Ahmed Sheikh alias Saifullah S-o Abdus Salam Sheikh R-o Hind Sitapur, had got trapped in the operation that was launched by Pulwama Police and troops of RR 44 Bn last evening. Officials today confirmed the death of both the holed up militants and identified them as Bilal Ahmed Sheikh alias Saifullah and Shabir Ahmed Najar alias Talha R-o Manzgam Bren, Nishat. The operation had been launched over a specific information at the residence of a local Congress activist and Councilor in Shopian Municipal Committee, namely Nisar Ahmed Dahal, at Bongam in Shopian town. Troops apprehended Dahal's sister Ruby, detained her for sustained interrogation and claimed to have recovered from her possession Saifullah's mobile phone, with a BSNL SIM card. Sources said that Talha's mobile phone got destroyed in the overnight gunbattle. A senior official said that the Congress activist was 'evading the arrest' even as Police were assiduously looking for him. According to official sources, Saifullah was responsible for nearly a hundred cases of extortion, kidnapping, civilian killing and attacks on security forces. Police and security forces had been looking for him for the last two years and, according to an official source, they had failed to get him dead or alive in as many as 25 operations. Officials described him as the most wanted militant of the day in Shopian-Kulgam belt. While the gunbattle at Shopian was in progress, troops of RR 09 Bn laid ambushes and launched a search operation in Kapran area late last night. They had intensified vigil and gathering of field inputs after militants had looted two SLRs from a minority-guarding Police picket at Rishinagri on January 12th. Sources said that during the operation at Batgund Heepora, near Kapran, not far away from Rishinagri, troops established contact with a group of armed militants. As they were challenged to halt, militants opened fire and made desperate attempts to escape. In retaliation, that continued for over two hours, troops gunned down three militants. Weapons and documents recovered from the site of the encounter described them as cadres of Harkat-ul- Mujahideen. One of them was tentatively identified as Farooq Ahmed Chandal S-o Abdur Rehman R-o Mahore, Udhampur. A Defence spokesman said that troops recovered both the SLRs, which had been looted from the Rishinagri Police picket, as also a Chinese pistol from the militants killed at Batgund. As exclusively reported in this newspaper, militants had struck a wave of terror by killing two CPI (M) activists and leaving yet another critically wounded in a chain of strikes in Kulgam-Shopian belt of south Kashmir last evening. They included the CPI (M) State secretary Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami's nephew, Gulzar Ahmed Rather, who had been appointed as a Wireless Operator in J&K Police Telecommunication and was currently under training at Vijaypur, in Jammu. Today's reports said that Aijaz Ahmed Malla, who had been attacked at his village in Sholipora, was recovering at a hospital. Sources said that militants lobbed a hand grenade towards a CRPF picket at Batmalooo in Srinagar today. It, however, exploded in the air and failed to cause any damage.