The nephew of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar was among the three militants killed by the security forces in a gunbattle in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Monday.
Local news agency GNS said the killed militant was Jaish’s divisional commander Talha Rasheed and that the spokesperson of the terrorist group confirmed his identity to them.
The spokesperson also said two other militants killed in the encounter were divisional commander Muhammad Bhai, a non-local, and Waseem, a resident of Drubgam Pulwama, GNS reported.
An army soldier was also killed in the encounter at Kandi Aglar village.
The encounter took place at a time when Dineshwar Sharma, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau who was tasked by the Union government to initiate talks in Kashmir over the three-decade-old insurgency, arrived in Srinagar.
A police spokesperson said the police along with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Rashtriya Rifles (RR) conducted an operation in the Kandi Aglar area under the jurisdiction of Rajpora police station following credible leads.
“While the cordon was being laid, the militants opened fire in which one army jawan and a civilian got injured. The army jawan attained martyrdom whereas the injured civilian was evacuated and shifted to the hospital. His condition is stated to be stable,” the spokesperson said.
Three weapons, including one AK assault rifle, one M16 rifle and one pistol, besides ammunition were recovered from the encounter site.
The spokesperson said that it was the same group that was wanted for the attack on the police checkpoint a few days back.
Police, however, is yet to confirm the identity of the killed militants.
A per government data, from 2014 to March this year, there have been 795 militancy-related incidents in which 397 militants were killed while 64 civilians and 178 security personnel lost their lives. Compared to 222 incidents in 2014, there were 322 incidents in 2016. In 2014, 28 civilians and 47 security personnel and 110 militants were killed in these incidents. In 2016, these numbers were 15, 82 and 150.
Azhar, the chief of the UN-designated terrorist group, is accused of several terrorist strikes in India, the most recent being the attack on the airbase in Pathankot in January last year and the Uri army camp last September.
Pakistani authorities took him into “protective custody” after last year terror attack in Pathankot, Punjab which was widely reported as an “arrest”. However, he was seen free in April 2016.