Sep­a­ratist leader’s son among 2 Hizb mil­i­tants shot dead in Srinagar

Tues­day’s gun­fight be­tween mil­i­tants & se­cu­rity forces was the first in Srinagar since 2018

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - NEWS - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com

SRINAGAR: A top Hizbul Mu­jahideen (HM) com­man­der was among two mil­i­tants killed in an overnight gun­bat­tle with se­cu­rity forces in Srinagar’s Nawakadal area on Tues­day, Jammu & Kash­mir po­lice chief Dil­bag Singh said. This was the first such fire­fight in Srinagar since 2018 and was trig­gered af­ter the forces launched an op­er­a­tion in the heart of the city fol­low­ing a tip-off about the mil­i­tant pres­ence there.

Singh iden­ti­fied the slain mil­i­tants as HM’s di­vi­sional com­man­der Ju­naid Ashraf Khan, AGE, who was the son of sep­a­ratist leader and Tahreek-e-Hur­riyat chair­man Mo­ham­mad Ashraf Sehrai, and Tariq Ashraf, AGE.

The overnight gun­bat­tle is the lat­est in a se­ries of fire­fights in the Kash­mir Val­ley over the last two months that have co­in­cided with an es­ca­la­tion in vi­o­lence in the re­gion. It came days af­ter Hizbul Mu­jahideen com­man­der Riyaz Naikoo, 35, who car­ried a bounty of ₹12 lakh on his head, was killed in Pul­wama dis­trict on May 6.

The fresh op­er­a­tion be­gan on Mon­day night when se­cu­rity forces en­cir­cled a clus­ter of houses in the densely-pop­u­lated Nawakadal. Res­i­dents said they heard the first ex­change of fire in the lo­cal­ity around mid­night. The ex­change re­sumed on Tues­day morn­ing and the gun­bat­tle ended around 1 pm on Tues­day when the forces re­cov­ered two bod­ies from a dam­aged house.

Singh said Ju­naid Ashraf Khan had joined mil­i­tancy two years ago and had been op­er­at­ing in Srinagar, Budgam, Pul­wama and Shopian dis­tricts. “His as­so­ci­ate [Tariq Ashraf] who was killed in to­day’s en­counter had joined mil­i­tancy only in March this year,’’ he said.

Ju­naid Ashraf Khan, a Mas­ter of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion grad­u­ate from the Kash­mir Univer­sity, joined the mil­i­tant ranks in

March 2018 af­ter he went miss­ing from Srinagar. He later posted a pic­ture hold­ing a gun as he an­nounced he had joined HM, Jammu & Kash­mir’s big­gest mil­i­tant group. His father re­placed Syed Ali Shah Gee­lani as the Tehreek-e-Hur­riyat chief the same year.

Singh said that Ju­naid Ashraf Khan was in­volved in over half-adozen crim­i­nal cases be­sides at­tacks on se­cu­rity forces and in­tim­i­da­tion of civil­ians. “He was cur­rently op­er­at­ing as the di­vi­sional com­man­der of Hizbul Mu­jahideen of cen­tral Kash­mir...” Singh said they had been try­ing to track Ju­naid Ashraf Khan for sev­eral days.

Singh said they have been try­ing to keep Srinagar peace­ful but en­e­mies were at­tempt­ing to dis­turb the peace of the city. He said most of the grenade at­tacks in the city lately have been found to be linked to HM. “We have ar­rested 12 peo­ple and busted mod­ules try­ing to carry out at­tacks in the city.’’

WASEEM ANDRABI/HT

Po­lice per­son­nel evac­u­at­ing civil­ians from near the en­counter site in Srinagar on Tues­day.

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