Srinagar, July 22: Three militants, who were part of a group allegedly involved in the murder of a police constable a day earlier in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, were killed in an encounter by government forces in Khudwani village of the district on Sunday morning.
The slain militants were identified as Muawiya, a Pakistani, and locals, Suhail Ahmad Dar and Mudassar alias Rehaan. The trio, as per a police spokesperson, was involved in the abduction and murder of constable Mohammad Saleem Shah on Saturday.
They were part of a joint group of militant outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Police did not clarify who belonged to which.
“In a significant breakthrough, concerted efforts of the security forces resulted in the elimination of the prime accused involved in the yesterday’s abduction and killing of Constable Mohd Saleem of JKP at Kulgam,” said a police spokesman in a statement.
“Mauwiya’s involvement was established in a number of civilian killings,” the spokesman added.
“Suhail who was working as a laborer earlier after he had dropped out of school had later joined a militant outfit,” he said.
“Police probe is on for ascertaining complicity of the other co-conspirators who assisted in the commission of the gruesome crime leading to the death of police person Saleem.”
“Some arms and ammunition including but not limited to 2AK 47 rifles and a carbine have also been recovered from the site of encounter.”
Police has registered a case and investigation has been initiated into the matter.
State director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid tweeted that the militants had “tortured” Shah and “killed him brutally”. He and Army spokesperson Rajesh Kalia confirmed the death of the three militants.
The slain cop was the lone bread earner for his family and is survived by aged parents, two brothers and one unmarried sister.
Shah, who had come on leave to his home, was the second policeman who was abducted and killed by the militants this month. Earlier, police constable Javaid Ahmad Dar was abducted from his house at Vehil in Shopian district and killed by militants.
Last month, Army soldier Aurangzeb was abducted from a private vehicle when he was going home for Eid in Shopian. His body was recovered from a Pulwama village.
Meanwhile, thousands of people turned up in Redwani and Katarsoo villages of Kulgam for the funerals of Suhail and Mudassar respectively, according to locals.
They said that even a few militants turned up in Redwani and fired shots in the air, in what is locally known as ‘gun salute’, during the funeral. Funerals of foreign militants are held under police watch.
Authorities suspended mobile internet services in Kulgam and Anantnag districts as a precautionary measure.