Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, one of the top commanders of terror group Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM), was among the eight terrorists killed in two separate encounters in Jammu and Kashmir between the Indian Army and the local police on Saturday.
Bhat was killed in the Tral in South Kashmir. In his mid-twenties, Bhat ironically is believed to have joined the HM after a girl he loved allegedly rejected his marriage proposal.
While two of the terrorists killed were holed up in a building in Pulwama district's Tral sector, six others were killed by the Indian Army as it successfully foiled an infiltration attempt along the Line of Control or LoC in Rampur sector in Baramulla district.
The operation in Tral where Sabzar Bhat was killed, is still on. The area has been cordoned off. Security forces – Indian Army and Special Operations Group of the J&K police – moved in on the basis of a specific input generated by the intelligence agencies. Sabzar and two other terrorist were trapped inside a 12 room house in Soimuh village when the forces moved in.
Bhat was a close confidant of Bhuran Wani – the HM terrorist who was killed in an encounter last July. He emerged as one of the main operational commanders of the terror group soon after the Wani was killed.
Like Burhan Wani, Sabzar is also from Tral. Security forces believe that Bhat was aware of Burhan's contacts and links across the Line of Control (LoC). Also known as "Sab Don," he was into extortion and kidnappings. "He represents the criminal elements who joined HM," top officials told HuffPost, India
Burhan Wani and Sabzar were Kashmiri boys who also represent the new face of terror in J&K. They were the first group of terrorist who used social media to galvanise and recruit more local boys into the terror fold. According to estimates of the security agencies over 100 local boys have joined terror groups like the HM in the last one year alone.
In the second encounter - in Rampur sector in North Kashmir- six terrorists were killed. The six terrorist were trying to infiltrate when they were intercepted by the Indian Army along the Line of Control (LoC) – the de-facto border between India and Pakistan –late last night. "The infiltration attempt was foiled," a senior Indian Army official said and added bodies of six terrorist, 4 AK-47 assault rifles and one pistol was recovered.
Rampur adjoins the Uri sector where a Pakistan's Border Action Team or BAT comprising regular Pakistani soldiers and terrorist were killed yesterday. The BAT team had crossed the LoC when they were detected.
Security agencies believe that at least 300 to 350 terrorists are in the valley currently. Most have infiltrated across the LoC from Pakistan. Earlier, on May 9th the Indian Army launched a punitive fire assault on Pakistani army position that was aiding terrorist infiltrate. And, in an unusual move the Indian Army released a 24 second video clip to media as proof of the assault. The Indian Army used to recoilless guns, anti-tank guided missiles and heavy weapons to blow –up the Pakistani post.
The unrest in the valley - that started with the killing of Bhuran Wani last July - has been continuing for the second consecutive. While stone throwers and lock down of the valley is being led and fronted by separatist leaders and the Jamaat-e-Islami, "the presence of large number of terrorists have also forced the local population to join the protest," a senior security official told HuffPost, India.
On one hand, the Indian Army has had restarted cordon and search operations after a decade-and-a-half to stem the growing unrest. On the other hand, the security forces – the Indian Army, para-military and local police – have been asked to intelligence based operations to eliminate as many terrorist as possible before the onset of summer. Assessments with New Delhi from various security establishments indicate that the in-coming summer in the valley will be violent and hot.
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