NEW DELHI: Twenty-one top militants are now on the “hit list” of security forces after Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) chief Dawood Ahmed Salafi and three of his aides were gunned down in a shootout at Nowshera village in south Kashmir on Friday.
The bodies of Dawood Ahmad Sofi (known also as Salafi and Burhan), the chief of ISIS in J&K and involved in several terror attacks on policemen, snatching of weapons, stone-pelting cases, and three others were retrieved from the site on Friday.
The encounter, considered as a major success by the security forces, was the first combat operation after the imposition of governor’s rule in J&K.
Security establishment sources said major operations were now underway to target 21 “most wanted militantts” -11 from Hizbul Mujahideen, seven from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), two from Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) and one from Ansar Ghazwat ul-Hind (AGH).
“The focus of intelligence-gathering and counter-insurgency operations is mainly on these 21 militants, six of whom are placed in the highest category of ‘A++’ based on the number of people they have killed, their control over areas, their propaganda impact and longevity,” said a source.
“If these 21 can be eliminated, matters will considerably cool down and throw the militants’ ranks into disarray… it takes time for the next set of terror leadership to come up and establish itself. Once a militant is categorized as A++, carrying a reward of Rs 12 lakh, his days are generally numbered, the reverse count for his elimination begins,” he added.
The six A++ militants in the list comprise four from Hizb – Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo (chief operational commander in the Kashmir Valley), Altaf Ahmad Dar (division commander in south Kashmir), Umar Majeed Ganai (a resident of Hawoora, Kulgam) and Zeenat-ul-Islam (Sugan, Shopian).
The other two are Mustaq Ahmad Mir (Chak Cholan, Shopian) from LeT and AGH commander Zakir Rashid Bhat (Tral).
Three of the LeT militants on the hit list are from Pakistan – Abu Muslim, Abu Zargam and Mohammed Naveed Jad – all of them in the A+ category. While the first two operate in the Hajan area, the third is active in Pulwama.
The others from Hizb are Mohammad Ashraf Khan (Kokernag, Anantnag), Mohammad Abbas Sheikh (Kaimuh, Kulgam), Saifullah Mir (Malangpur, Pulwama), Latif Ahmad Dar (Dogirpur, Awantipur), Umar Fayaz Lone (Tral, Awantipur), Manan Wani (an AMU research scholar from Kupwara) and Junaid Ashraf Sehrai (son of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Ashraf Sehrai).
The LeT names are Azad Ahmad Maslik (Malikpura, Anantnag), Shakoor Ahmad Dar (Tengpora, Kulgam) and Riyaz Ahmad Dar (Sethargun, Pulwama). The two from JeM are Zahid Ahmad Wani (Karimabad, Pulwama) and Mudasir Ahmad Khan (Midpur, Awantipur).(TOI)