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Key suspect gunned down

Two months after the Varanasi blasts, the Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday claimed to have shot dead the main conspirator in a joint operation with the army.

india Updated: May 10, 2006 01:21 IST

Two months after the Varanasi blasts, the Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday claimed to have shot dead the main conspirator in a joint operation with the army.

Muhammad Zubair, a resident of Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, was killed in an encounter at a remote village in north Kashmir's Kupwara district early on Tuesday. He was a commander of the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul Jehad-e-Islami and was associated with the Kalimullag group of the outfit.The police said Zubair was directly involved in the March 7 blasts at Sankatmochan Temple and the Cantonment Railway Station in Varanasi, which had claimed 20 lives. Dozens of others were injured in the blasts.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) K. Rajendra said the UP police had provided the tip-off about his presence in the valley. He said Zubair was planning to cross the LoC.

Zubair had reportedly arrived in the valley around a month ago with a plan to cross over to Pakistan. UP police had been following his movement and passed on the tip-off to the J&K police about his plans.

"We had prior information about his presence in north Kashmir. A joint party of police and the army spotted him in Haran Tikabal village in Handwara (85 km from Srinagar)," Rajendra said. The police said when challenged, the terrorist opened fire on security forces and was killed in return fire. However, two of Zubair's accomplices managed to flee before the encounter commenced, Rajendra said.

Terming the killing of Zubair as a major success, Rajendra said a pistol with one magazine and four rounds besides a diary and some documents were recovered from the slain militant.

The diary and documents were being examined, he added.