Top LeT commander among 3 militants killed in Kulgam
1 July 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: Police and security forces have killed three militants, including a Pakistani 'District Commander' of Lashkar-e-Toiba, in a fierce gunbattle in Kulgam area of south Kashmir. Residents of Munawarabad locality said that one Innayatullah Bhat, who had been partially handicapped in an accident some years back and ran a bakery in front of the CRPF-occupied Ikhwan Hotel, had moved out of his shop to get cigarettes at 2150 hours last night when a CRPF guard of 46 Bn fired upon him without any reason and provocation. They said that Innayatullah sustained critical injuries and later breathed his last at SKIMS, Soura. A CRPF spokesman, however, insisted that a soldier opened fire as the civilian was mistaken as a suicide militant for he ignored all signals and reached the entrance of the paramilitary formation. CRPF spokesman Dilip Singh said that Bhat was fired upon as he did not stop when asked by the soldiers, who suspected him to be a suicide attacker. The incident occurred during a routine security blockade of a road passing through the Khanyar area, he said Residents alleged that CRPF men were seen dragging him and then pumping bullets into his body killing him on the spot. A music composer, who has been invalid for quite some time and had undergone several surgeries, Innayatullah was running a bakery shop in the locality. J&K Police sources confirmed that Innayatullah was a civilian and no weapons were recovered from the site of shootout. They said that case FIR No 56 of 2006 under section 307 Ranbir Penal Code was registered at Police Station Shaheed Gunj on the basis of the residents' complaint against CRPF. As the news of the killing spread in the morning, hundreds of people including women and children assembled outside the residence of the deceased at Bhishamber Nagar, Munawarabad and then marched through streets in uptown Srinagar, carrying Innayatullah's body on a stretcher. Enforcing a spontaneous shutdown, downing shutters, shouting slogans and hurling stones and brickbats on police and Government vehicles, the protestors dismantled signboards and destroyed roadside Police kiosks. They also pelted stones at JK Bank mini corporate headquarters on Maulana Azad Road breaking its window panes. Chanting anti-Government slogans, angry mobs engaged Police in ding dong clashes for over three hours. In order to disperse the crowds, Police used tearsmoke, rubber bullets and baton charge. Protestors brought down a police picket in Barbar Shah on Fakhr-e-Kashmir Bridge. Sources said that eight cops and six protesters were injured during the violent clashes. Shopkeepers downed their shutters and joined the protestors bringing the business activities to a grinding halt. Separatist leader Javed Ahmed Mir was among a dozen persons who sustained injuries during the clashes with Police. However, most of the shops were opened in the afternoon and traffic resumed on almost all the City roads. Meanwhile, a district commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) was among three militants killed in an encounter with police at Mirhama, Kulgam in Anantnag district. Sources in south Kashmir said that on a specific information, Kulgam Police launched a search operation at Mirhama village with the back- up support of CRPF 5th Bn and CRPF 161 Bn last evening. Later, troops of RR 09 Bn were also associated with the operation. According to a tip off, three militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba were present at a hideout. During the operation, an encounter took place between the holed up militants and security forces. Inspector J P Singh of CRPF 5th Bn sustained injuries. In retaliation, troops destroyed the target house, killing three militants. One of them was identified as the top wanted Lashkar 'District Commander' Abu Qasif alias Mohammad Gauri while two remained unidentified though equal number of 'probably fake' identity cards were recovered from their possession in the name of Muneer Ahmad Ganai of Marwah Dachan and Fayaz Ahmad Rather of Harshiwan, Sopore. Two AK 47 rifles, 9 magazines, 209 rounds of ammunition, one Kironkof gun, one satellite SIM card of Thurraya and three SIM cards of mobile phones were recovered from the encounter site. Sources said that Gori became district commander of the outfit after the elimination of Abu Rehman in May. The diary recovered from him revealed his involvement in a suicidal attack in Kathua where three soldiers had got killed. With this three district commanders of LeT - Abu Osama, Abu Rehman and Abu Qasif-have been killed by Police and security forces in the last three months.