Srinagar: A top commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba offshoot The Resistance Front (TRF) — allegedly involved in the killings of two teachers and a Kashmiri Pandit chemist last month — was among three suspected militants gunned down in a Jammu & Kashmir Police operation in Srinagar Wednesday evening.
According to police sources, the deceased have been identified as TRF commander Mehran Yaseen Shalla (20), a resident of Nawa Kadal in downtown Srinagar, and Pulwama residents Manzoor Ahmad and Arafat Ahmad Sheikh. The sources said Mehran and Arafat were members of the TRF, while Manzoor was a Hizbul Mujahideen operative.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, confirmed to ThePrint that Mehran was killed in the encounter. “Three militants, including the top TRF commander, have been killed in an operation. He had been on our radar for a long time,” he said.
The operation sparked a protest in Srinagar’s downtown area, with residents reporting heavy stone-pelting in Nawa Kadal over allegations that the encounter was fake. The local police officer, who didn’t wish to be named, admitted there was a disturbance in the area, but told ThePrint it was brought under control.
Reached for comment about the allegations, a senior Jammu & Kashmir Police officer said details about the operation are still emerging and it is too early to comment.
The encounter comes days after another controversial operation in Srinagar, where four people — including a suspected Pakistani terrorist — were killed in Hyderpora. Police have alleged militant association for two of the other men killed in that encounter as well, but their families have refuted the allegations. The fourth man killed was a businessman — police say he died in crossfire, but his family claims he was used as a human shield.
‘Men arrived in 2 cars’
Police sources said Mehran and Arafat had joined TRF in May 2021. Manzoor, they added, had gone missing from his home on 22 June and had since been “actively working” with the Hizbul Mujahideen.
“All the three are listed militants and the search for them had been on for the last few months,” a police source said. “The police had been on the hunt for Mehran who was involved in the conspiracy to kill chemist (Makhan Lal) Bindroo,” the source added. “He was also involved with the other civilian killings that rocked the Valley in October.”
Bindroo, a Kashmiri Pandit, was shot dead at his shop in Srinagar by suspected militants in the first week of October.
According to the sources, police had information about the three men coming to the location to meet someone, following which a cordon was laid. Policemen in civil clothes were also deployed in the area, they said.
“The three men were in two vehicles — one was a blue WagonR, which was without a number plate, and the other was a black Santro with a JK number plate. The men got down from the car when they were confronted, and were shot in the operation,” the police source said.
The bodies of the three men were taken to the police control room and will now be sent for a postmortem examination.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)