In what comes as a major breakthrough for the Jammu and Kashmir Police, last surviving member of the so-called gang of Burhan Wani has been killed by the security forces. Lateef Tiger, a top Hizbul commander and a close associate of the slain separatist poster boy Burhan Wani was among the three terrorists killed on Friday in Shopian district.
The encounter took place at the Imam Sahib area of the south Kashmir district following a cordon and search operation there in the early hours of Friday. Officials said that after a brief exchange of fire, the cordon was strengthened to prevent the militants from escaping.
The wiping out of the Burhan Brigade was planned by none other than National Security Advisor Ajit Doval code named "Jackboot" by which the unified command was asked to systematically eliminate the Burhan group of 11, a photo of which had gone viral after Wani was eliminated on July 8, 2016.
Much in the style of 'Operation Wrath of God' of the Israeli government's secret retaliation against the Palestine Liberation Organisation after the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, the decision was taken to neutralise each member to sent out a strong message against sympathising with homegrown terror cells.
Tiger was killed in Adkhara village of Imam Sahib area and with his death -- 10 out of 11 members of the so-called 'Burhan Brigade' in south Kashmir, has come to an end with a lone member, Tariq Pandit, languishing in jail after his arrest by the security forces in 2016.
The others from the gang who have been eliminated are Sabzar Ahmed Bhat (May 2017), Wasim Malla (April 2015), Naseer Ahmed Pandit (April 2016), Afaqullah Bhat (October 2015), Adil Ahmed Khanday (October 2015), Saddam Paddar (May 2018), Wasim Shah and Anees who security forces claim has also been eliminated.
Burhan Wani was killed in July 2016, triggering a valley-wide unrest with 98 civilian protesters dying over a period of six months in clashes with security forces, while 4,000 others were injured.
Lateef Ahmad Dar, who was killed earlier in the day in a sustained operation belonged to Dogripora village of Awantipora area in Pulwama district and was a carpenter by profession.
The other two slain militants have been identified as Tariq Molvi and Shariq Nengroo, both belonging to Chotigam village of Shopian district.
On Friday, over two dozen protesters were injured in clashes with the security forces in Anantnag town and other places in south Kashmir after the news about the killing of Lateef Tiger and his associates spread despite the authorities having suspended mobile Internet and train services in south Kashmir districts.
Three youths sustained pellet injury during the mob control operation by the security forces. This was despite suspension of mobile Internet facility in all the four south Kashmir districts. Train services between Srinagar and Banihal towns and those passing through south Kashmir districts were also suspended.
A few of the other areas in South Kashmir were also reporting clashes as news of the encounter spread despite authorities. The house in which the militants were hiding was destroyed in the gunfight while two other houses were partially damaged.
Shopian and Pulwama districts will vote on May 6 in the third and final phase of the three-phased polling in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.