The Indian armed forces continued to taste success in the Kashmir valley when it comes to counter terror operations after top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Yasin Yatoo was killed on Sunday. The gun battle took place at the Awneera village in South Kashmir’s Shopian district, between Yatoo and a joint team of the Army, CRPF and J&K Police. The security forces got to the area after receiving Intel that a total of nine Hizbul and Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders were having a meeting in the village.
Incidentally 6 months earlier Yatoo had faked is death which included holding his funeral in order to escape the radar of the security forces. He had first joined insurgency in 1996 when he was a 2nd year student in Amar Singh College, Srinagar when he was motivated to join the Hizbul Mujahideen by one of its sectional commander. He soon went across the border to receive arms training.
The Kashmir zone’s IG Muneer Khan dubbed this operation as a very big success and stated that he was one of the top commanders active in the valley. The operation which lasted over 15 hours also resulted in the death of 2 associates of Yatoo named Umar Majeed and Sheikh Irfan-ul-Haq and 2 soldiers named Sepoy Gawai Sumedh Waman and Sepoy Ilayaraja P attained martyrdom.
The already difficult operation(as the area was surrounded by orchards and nullahs), was given an added complexity after residents of the village started stone pelting on the security forces even before the cordon was put in place. What made things worse was that for the 1st time in over a decade, militants from another area came to the aid of their associates and started firing on the forces from outside the perimeter. This external help ensured that several terrorists including top commanders like Altaf Ahmad Dar managed to escape.
The forces have managed to kill at-least 133 terrorists this year and it is believed that there are 70 more who are active in the valley.
The forces could have experienced another monumental success if they were successful in capturing or eliminating dreaded terrorist Zakir Musa who has declared his support for Al Qaeda and has openly called to make Kashmir an Islamic state. He and his aids were incidentally trapped in a house at Noorpora on Friday but were helped to flee by stone pelters.