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Director General of Police (DGP) of Jammu and Kashmir Dilbagh Singh today (Wednesday, November 28) confirmed that top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Naveed Jatt — a prime suspect in the murder of senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari on 14 June — was one of the two terrorists killed in the Budgam encounter earlier in the day.

Two soldiers were injured and two militants, including Jatt, were killed in the Budgam encounter. The gunfight broke out as a cordon and search operation was launched after security forces received specific information about the presence of militants in the district’s Kuthpora Chattergam area. As the search party closed in on the militants, they opened fired on the security forces, triggering the encounter.

Naveed Jatt alias Hanzalla “was known as the commander of proscribed terror outfit LeT”, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said in a statement. “He was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of terror crimes, including the killing of noted journalist Shujaat Bukhari, attacks on security establishments and many other civilian atrocities.”

The police said Jatt was “part of terrorist Ajmal Kasab’s group at a madrassa in Pakistan, where he had undergone arms training”. He infiltrated the Valley “along with his associates” in October 2012, “as per police records”.

Jatt has a long list of crimes since 2012. The police had managed to take him into custody in 2014, but he escaped from custody in February 2018 while being taken to SMHS hospital in Srinagar for medical treatment from the Central Jail Srinagar. Two policemen were killed in the firing that ensued.

At a press conference in Srinagar, Singh told reporters Jatt’s killing was good news for the people of the Valley. “People were being inconvenienced. Youth were either lured into terrorism, or killed by terrorists. I am sure people will now breathe a sigh of relief,” he added

Singh also told the press that the Budgam encounter was a joint operation of the Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

The bodies of the militants have been retrieved from the site of the encounter. The police said they had recovered incriminating materials; include arms and ammunition, from the location. A case has been registered, and an investigation has been initiated.

Meanwhile, authorities have suspended mobile internet services in Budgam and Pulwama districts.

Jatt, along with two local terrorists were accused of killing Bukhari, editor-in-chief of English daily Rising Kashmir, on June 14. Jatt is believed to have been one of the three bike-borne individuals who had gunned Bukhari down outside his office at Press Enclave in Srinagar.

According to the police, he was also involved in the killing of an assistant sub-inspector in Pulwama on May 2013, a series of grenade attacks on security forces and the killing of CRPF personnel at Awneera Shopian in August 2013, among several other such crimes in Jammu and Kashmir.

(With Agency Inputs)

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