The security forces on Saturday said that they have apprehended a top militant of Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen and termed the seizure as a ‘major blow’ to Kashmir’s frontline militant outfit.
A defence spokesman here said that Tariq Pandit, a close aide of the Hizb’s iconic figure Burhan Wani, was captured “in a well coordinated swift operation” on Newa-Pinglana road of southern Pulwama district. Earlier, reports had suggested that Pandit surrendered before the Army which has tightened the noose around the militant group and, in fact, has along with local police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) carried out a series of successful operations against militants across the Valley in past few weeks.
Defence spokesman Lt. Col. N.N. Joshi said that based on specific intelligence input about the movement of Pandit along the Neva-Pinglana road near Karimabad, Pulwama a joint mobile vehicle check-post was established by Army and the SOG on Saturday morning. “The movement of the terrorist was kept under constant surveillance and, as he closed in, he was apprehended by the team of Rashtriya Rifles battalion,” the spokesman said adding that one 9 mm pistol, two Chinese grenades and other ‘war like stores’ were recovered from Pandit.
He added that the Hizb militant has been involved in many terror related incidents in Pulwama area and that an FIR has been registered and subsequently Pandit was handed over to the local police station. Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Rifles and Territorial Army along with J&K police have recovered a cache of arms and ammunition during a search operation in Khangar Forest of frontier Rajouri district.
The recovery includes one AK- 56 rifle, two pistols, one UBGL, one 7.62 mm Barrel, six magazines of AK-47, three rounds of RPG, two anti rank rifle grenades, two UBGL grenades, two Chinese hand grenades, 120 rounds of AK-47, eight rounds of Pika, 30 rounds of pistol, 166 rounds of 303 rifle , one pouch and one solar plate, officials said.