Security forces in Kashmir's Pulwama claimed to have pulled off a major feat by gunning down one of the longest serving militant commanders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Abu Dujana, in over seven-hour-long encounter which started early on Tuesday.
Several locals, however, indulged in stone-pelting, ultimately providing him cover while the encounter ensued. In fact, locals assisting Dujana and other militants escape encounters and arrest in the last one year prompted the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the role of the Huriyat leaders in funding stone-pelters in the Valley. Dujana is responsible for carrying out several major incidents of militancy in Kashmir and was among the most wanted militants. For the past one month, Dujana, however, was associated with the head of Al-Qaeda in Kashmir, Zakir Musa, and both were working in close co-ordination.
Police sources said that though Dujana's presence was across Kashmir, his militant activities remained restricted mostly to south Kashmir. In north Kashmir, LeT was headed by another militant. Dujana was a popular name in south Kashmir and youths had been zealously identifying themselves with him and even his photos went viral.
On Tuesday, Dujana was caught in the same area where he had earlier given the forces a slip. The police told Firstpost that they acted on specific information about the presence of militants in the area. Dujana and his other LeT associates had remained holed up inside a house in Hakripora, when a team of policemen and army personnel cordoned off the area where Dujana was killed early Tuesday morning.
A police spokesman, based in Srinagar, said that the LeT chief commander, Dujana, along with his accomplice, was killed in Hakripora, Pulwama. "It is a huge acchievement for police and security forces," he said.
However, as soon as locals heard sound of gunshots, they flocked towards the encounter site in an attempt to disrupt encounter operations. At least half-a-dozen were injured in retaliatory firing and one civilian was killed. Nisar Ahmad, a local resident of Pulwama, said that the forces had razed down the house in which the two militants were holed up and also used teargas to disperse protesters.
For the past one year, since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani, militants like Abu Dujana, managed to appear and disappear out of public gatherings despite heavy police presence in the area. Apprehending more trouble and the deterioration in the security situation after the killing of Dujana, police has sounded an alert all across Kashmir and ordered patrolling be intensified, particularly in Pulwama, where the encounter took place. As a precautionary measure, mobile internet services have been suspended in Pulwama. Train services will also remain suspended to prevent a flare up.
A senior police official told Firstpost said that Dujana was one of the top-rated militants of LeT and was active since 2009 in Kashmir. In the last one year, Dujana is the third militant to be killed by the forces. While Burhan was killed in July 2016, another top Hizbul commander, Sabzar Bhat, was killed by the police and army.
"Dujana was working closely with Musa and it was their jihadi ideology that was pulling them together," a top security official told Firstpost. Indian Army had earlier disclosed his name as among the 12 most wanted militants and he was categorised as an A++ category militant.
However, in an indication that Dujana was working in tandem with Hizbul Mujahideen as well, Syed Salahudin, Hizbul's operational chief, has said that Dujana's killing will leave a "vacuum".
Salahudin presided over the meeting of United Jehad Council, conglomerate of different militant organisations, at Muzafarbad in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), in which it was noted that Dujana had taken part in many incidents and inflicted "fear and casualties" among the government forces. In a statement, Salahudin has warned the police officials and the people of dire consequences, who are helping out the forces to kill militants.
Police officials said that there are at least 20 cases registered against Dujana, including attacks on security forces, as well as incidents of bank robberies. A police official said that Dujana carried out attacks on CRPF convoy at Pampore in June last year in which 8 CRPF jawans were killed and 22 others injured.
A bus carrying CRPF personnel was returning to Srinagar after practicing at a firing range when it was attacked and two militants were also killed in the retaliatory action. Dujana had escaped from the encounter site. It was one of the biggest operations by militants in Kashmir following which the CRPF had reviewed the standard operating procedure (SOP) for deployment on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. Dujana had escaped after attacking the bus.
He had also taken part in the 2015 attack on a BSF convoy in Udhampur, near an army base in the region, in which two BSF personnel were also killed.
Updated Date: Aug 02, 2017 07:50 AM