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Most wanted militant and killer of two BJP councillors in Jammu and Kashmir killed in an encounter

A security cordon in Jammu and Kashmir (Photo: IANS)

The Jammu and Kashmir police has killed one of the most wanted militant Mudasir Pandit along with other two in an overnight encounter with security forces in Sopore area of Baramulla district in Jammu and Kashmir. The encounter had started late on Sunday night as the security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the area following information about the presence of at least three militants, including Pandit, in the area. The police on Monday identified the killed militants as top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Mudasir Pandit  alias Maaz Bhai and Asrar alias Abdullah, a Pakistani national who has been active since 2018. 

According to the police, Pandit was was wanted in the murder case of two BJP councillors and a police officer during a meeting in Sopore in March of this year. In December 2020, a grenade attack was launched in north Kashmir where three civilians were injured. On June 12 this year, Mudasir along with his team had attacked cops of Kashmir where two cops were martyred. 

 Last week the Jammu and Kashmir Police put out 'wanted' posters of three Lashkar-e-Taiba militants including  Mudasir Pandit  announcing a reward of Rs 10 lakh each for information leading to the arrest of the three militants. The posters were pasted at several places in the town and have pictures of the three men : Mudasir Ahmad Pandit, a resident of Bonpora Dangerpora (Sopore), Khursheed Ahmad Mir, a resident of Brath-Kallan (Sopore) and Fayaz Ahmad War, a resident of Warpora (Sopore).

The Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday confirmed that among the three terrorists killed, top Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Mudasir Pandit is also included. Not only this, a Pakistani terrorist Asrar alias Abdullah is also included in the dead. It was  the hit list of the police. Asrar has been active in North Kashmir since 2018. 

 Also Read: Pandita’s killing shows Pakistan has backtracked from the budding peace initiative with India

According to a security official, in 2019, the J&K police started putting up the posters of militants announcing cash rewards for anyone providing information about the whereabouts of these wanted criminals.

In August 2019, the police put up posters of the two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants, wanted in an attack on the house of a prominent fruit merchant, in north Kashmir’s Sopore town and its adjoining areas, announcing a reward of Rs 10 lakh and Rs five lakh to anyone providing information about them.

“Sajjad Ahmad Mir @ Jajja @ Hyder is wanted in various criminal cases. Any person giving information will be rewarded as the said terrorist is carrying a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head,” the posters carrying a picture of the militant carrying an AK an AK rifle, read. 

A similar poster with a picture of another militant Mudasir Ahmad Pandit alias Maaz Bhai carrying a bounty of Rs five lakh on his head has also been pasted in various areas of Sopore.

“Mudasir Pandith was an associate of Sajad,”  said the official. 

According to the state security agencies, Sajjad Ahmad Mir @Jajja @Hyder and two of other wanted militants were  killed last year in August during a 36 hour long encounter. It was believed that Mudasir Pandit managed to escape. 

Active since June 2019, Mudasir started launching attacks in the valley since the abrogation of article 370 in August 2019. He had started targeting fruit merchants and threatened them not to open markets. Additionally, he had started recruiting locals for terror activities. ades to youngsters and minors asking them to hurl towards security forces. 

According to the police file, Mudassir Pandit was born on 2 December 1995 in Dangarpora village of Sopore. After graduating from the Higher Secondary School in the area, he started working as a bike mechanic at Hassan Motors, Sopore. After working there from the year 2016 to 2019, he joined the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba on 23 June 2019 and  soon Mudasir became a category A terrorist. According to the police, there are about 150 active terrorists in the Kashmir Valley, out of which 40-50 are in North Kashmir. Most of these terrorists are also in Kupwara and Baramulla belt. Intelligence inputs also suggest that  about 250 are waiting in launch pads across the border. 

According to the Security officials, the all familiar names of jihadi terror organisations active in Kashmir till recently like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Hizbul Mujahidin (HM) are gradually being replaced by new tanzeems like The Resistance Force (TRF), Lashkar-e-Mustafa, Gaznavi Force, Al Badr. Most of the new “tanzeems” are the old wine in new bottles but with the majority cadre being locally recruited. Their operational and financial control remains with their akas (leaders) in Pakistan. 

Security agencies said that in order to sow confusion, these organisations have created organisations like the Resistance Front (TRF) and the People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF) on social media which are essentially cyber cells whose sole aims are to create havoc and generate communal disharmony in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of these two, PAFF came into existence in August 2019 and it included members of Pakistan based terror outfits LeT, Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) and Al-Badr.  

To counter them, security forces have been killing more militants than those who have joined terror groups, “we have begun to firmly tilt the scales in our favour. We strengthened our intel network and improved coordination.”