Two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, an army jawan and a civilian were killed during seperate encounters in Kashmir on Monday, while the police averted a major tragedy by defusing an improvised explosive device (IED) planted next to Srinagar's police control room ahead of a meeting of senior officers.
A civilian, Mukhtar Ahmad (68), a resident of Thokerpora, died of bullet injuries on Sunday evening in a forest area in Handwara district, 60 km north of Srinagar.
Ahmad's killing sparked off a controversy with family and neighbours accusing the army's 21Rashtriya Rifles (RR) of firing at the victim while he was grazing cattle in Bawan Watser forest area.
Army spokesman JS Brar denied the allegations.
"The man was killed when the army and militants exchanged gunfire in the forest," said Brar, adding "the operation is still in progress".
The army faced a similar accusation on September 9 when a goatherd, Manzoor Ahmad Pathwala (32), died in controversial ambush. A case was registered against the army then.
In north Kashmir's Bandipora district, 40 km away from Srinagar, the security forces killed two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants.
There were protests in the area and locals were demanding the bodies of the militants for final rites. Police fired tear-smoke shells and used mild force to disperse the protesters.
One of them identified by the police as Abu Dawood, LeT's divisional commander, with a reward of Rs11 lakh, the militant was killed in a gunfight triggered late on Sunday evening. The army's 3 Madras and the police's Special Operations Group (SOG) killed the militant in a search-and-cordon operation in Barzulla area.
In another incident, the police in Srinagar defused an IED hidden in a plastic can, with a nine-volt battery, a Programmed Timer Device (PTD).
"The police were informed about the IED. We evacuated the whole area and covered the spot with sandbags. A bomb squad later defused it," said Mohammad Yousuf, Superintendent of Police, Srinagar Control Room.
If somebody has planted an IED right in front of the PCR it is a matter of grave concern, said the police officer.
The IED was detected just a few minutes before a crucial security meeting ahead of Darbar Move, an annual migration of government offices from summer capital Srinagar to winter capital Jammu.
In another operation, soldiers laid an ambush near Gohati Nallah near the Line of Control in Uri sector of Baramulla district, 90 km north of Srinagar. The operation was launched following a tip off on the presence a group of militants, who intended to sneak into Kashmir.
"An encounter broke out between the two sides in the wee hours this morning in which an army
jawan sustained injuries," said a Defence spokesman. Soldier Kartar Singh was shifted to an army hospital where he succumbed to injuries.