Srinagar: Government Forces on Wednesday morning killed the top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Naveed Jatt in a gunfight at Chattargam area of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district. Besides, Jatt, another militant was also killed while at least three soldiers sustained injuries in the fierce gun battle. At least three residential houses were damaged in the encounter while locals accused Forces of vandalization of property including ambulances belonging to Sub-District Hospital Chattargam. Meanwhile Lashkar-e-Taiba tribute the militants killed in Chattargam gunfight.
Naveed Jatt alias Hanzalla “was Lashkar-e-Taiba Commander who according to police was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of militancy related incidents, including the killing of noted journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
After speculations, Director General of Police (DGP) of Jammu and Kashmir Dilbagh Singh confirmed his death in a presser at Police Control Room Srinagar.
The gunfight broke out as a cordon and search operation was launched after government forces received specific information about the presence of militants in the district’s Kuthpora Chattergam area. As the search party closed in on the militants, they opened fired on the security forces, triggering the encounter.
The police said Jatt was “part of militant Ajmal Kasab’s group at a madrassa in Pakistan, where he had undergone arms training”. He infiltrated the Valley “along with his associates” in October 2012, “as per police records”.
Police had managed to take him into custody in 2014, but he escaped from custody in February 2018 while being taken to SMHS hospital in Srinagar for medical treatment from the Central Jail Srinagar. Two policemen were killed in the firing that ensued.
A police spokesperson said that among the two militants killed, one was identified as Naveed Jatt alias Hanzalla who was known as the commander of LeT.
As per his earlier disclosure, Naveed Jatt alias Hanzalla was born in Multan Pakistan. As per police records, in October 2012, Naveed Jatt along with his associates had crossed over into the valley of Kashmir. He was involved in the killing of an ASI in Pulwama on May 2013, a series of grenade attacks on government forces and was involved in the killing of CRPF personnel at Awneera Shopian in August 2013. Besides, he was also involved in conspiring and executing several bank robberies and attacks in South Kashmir including attack on Court Complex Pulwama on March 2014 in which two policemen were killed, attack on polling party in Shopian on April 2014 in which several civilians sustained injuries and one presiding officer namely Zai-ul-Haq Wani was killed, attack on police party at Bongam Shopian on June 2014 in which several civilians and policemen were injured.
He was apprehended by police in June 2014, however, he managed to escape from the custody in the month of February 2018 while he was being taken to SMHS hospital Srinagar for medical treatment from Central Jail Srinagar. In a shootout that took place at the hospital, two policemen were martyred. He also figured as a suspect in case FIR No. 51/2018 in P/S Kothi Bagh pertaining to the assassination of Shujaat Bukhari and his security personnel. In the aforementioned case, which is under investigation a hue & cry notice was issued against Naveed Jatt and three others on the basis of material evidence collected.
“Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken for case records and probe their complicity in other terror cases. Police have registered a case and initiated an investigation in the matter.”
Since Naveed Jatt is a Pakistani national, following the procedure competent authorities shall be approached in Government of India for taking up the matter with Pakistan for handing over his body to them, the spokesman said.
Eyewitnesses said at least three militants managed to escape from the gunfight spot. A video showing locals rescuing a militant is already viral on social media. A medico at SDH Chattergam alleged that Forces damaged ambulances and stopped injured from being referred to Srinagar, a charge refuted by police.
The killing of Naveed Jatt sparked clashes in Chattargam where many people were injured. “More than a dozen people have suffered injuries, with one person suffering pellet injury in the eye while another has suffered a bullet injury in the thigh. Three injured were referred to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital for treatment,” said a medico.
Clashes also erupted at Degree College Bemina where students pelted stones on deployed forces. Authorities suspended internet service in Budgam and Pulwama district while high speed mobile internet was also choked in Kashmir capital Srinagar. At Kashmir University, students offered funeral prayers in absentia for Naveed Jatt. The protesting students also chanted slogans in favour of Naveed Jatt and Kashmir Freedom Struggle.
Meanwhile Lashkar-e-Taiba Wednesday paid rich tribute to militants killed in Chattargam gunfight.
“Both the warriors were true sons of soil who fought till their last breath. Our deepest thanks are also to all the Kashmiri people who feed and take care of these warriors as their own sons. We also request the Kashmiri People to not listen to the propaganda and lies of Indian state and their lackeys in Kashmir. Their only intention is to defame and discredit these warriors who have left all the comforts of their life and chosen a path of sacrifice for freedom. Indian state has itself been exposed time and again when it killed innocent tourists, members of minority communities and even its own military officers and then conveniently put the blame on indigenous Kashmiri fighters only to defame us and our struggle, but every time its concocted stories were exposed in front of the whole world. This however has had no effect on the Indian State and they continue to propagate white lies with a straight face even as these fantasy stories have become the laughing stock of the whole world,” LeT spokesperson Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi said in a statement.