Billu Gujjar, a top commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen, whose name was a byword for terror in this Hindu-majority region in Jammu and Kashmir, was gunned down in a fierce shootout with police early on Tuesday.
Acting on a specific tip-off, police raided his hideout in Malogi, a hilly village in Gool-about 175 kms from Jammu, around 1 am. The terrorist, who was apparently taken by surprise, tried to offer some resistance in a gun battle that lasted for around 20 minutes before succumbing to police bullets.
Inspector General of Police Jammu zone SP Vaid said this was a well-planned operation in which "we got rid of the longest surviving terrorist of Jammu and Kashmir".
Gujjar was involved in countless incidents of terrorist violence from assassinations to explosions since 1991 in the Kashmir Valley.
The slain terrorist used to operate in Doda and Udhampur districts, but his writ ran all over Jammu region. He was one of the topmost terrorists of the region and had the skills of manufacturing improvised explosive devices and also shooting his targets, especially security forces during ambushes.
Vaid said: "With the killing of Billu Gujjar, we have broken the backbone of Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen in Jammu and Kashmir. They are virtually leaderless now and the Hizb cadres would be rudderless."
This would help the police nab and target other Hizb cadres in the region, he added.
Gool, often termed as an ideal operating area for terrorists and a bane for the security forces, still has a large presence of terrorists.
The dead Hizb commander from Gool took up arms in his late teens. A booklet would be required to record the crimes that he committed, a police officer said, commenting on the innumerable crimes executed by him.