A mastermind of the 2005 Ayodhya attack, Dawood Khan, was killed in an encounter with the security forces in Poonch district on Sunday.
Dawood, active in Jammu & Kashmir, especially in Poonch district, for the past 10 years, was involved in about 60 encounters with the security forces.
He was a confidant of the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM’s) chief of the Kashmir unit, Saif-ullah-Qari.
Dawood, along with Saif-ullah-Qari, planned the Ayodhya attack, police said. Five militants were shot dead by the security personnel guarding the Babri Masjid complex after they (the militants) hurled grenades at them and tried to breach the security cordon.
It was earlier suspected that the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba had carried out the attack.
IG (Jammu) Ashok Gupta said, “He (had a long record of such militant activities) and was involved in the Ayodhya attack in 2005. He was coordinating terrorists’ movements from the Kashmir valley.”
The police, acting on a tip-off, launched a joint operation in coordination with the army and paramilitary forces in the Mendhar area on Sunday. The security forces said Dawood was hiding in a house. He started firing at the police and in retaliatory fire, he was killed.
This was a major blow for the JeM, the terrorist group founded by Maulana Masood Azhar, the police said.
Masood Azhar stayed in a Jammu jail for five years before he was let off in December 1999 as part of a deal for the release of IC-814 hostages.
The police said Dawood, a resident of Pak-occupied Kashmir, came next to Saif-ullah-Qari in the JeM hierarchy, and with his death the organisation had been neutralised, especially in the Poonch area, once a hot bed of militancy.