10 down, 1 to go. Burhan Wani's gang of 11 has fallen like a pack of cards. On Sunday, the Indian Army gunned down Yasin Yatoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi in an encounter at Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir.
When Burhan took over as the commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, he had formed a gang of 11 including himself. Out of the 11, Tariq Pandit has surrendered while Salim Padder is still at large. The rest of them have been killed in different encounters by the security forces.
The security forces managed to kill three terrorists including Yatoo after an 18 hour encounter. Police said three militants were killed in a fierce gunfight at Awneera village, 70 km from here. The encounter started after Army's 3 Rashtriya Rifle and special operations group (SOG) of police launched a joint operation at around 6 pm Saturday following a tip off about the presence of five militants. The slain militants were identified as Umar Majid Sheikh, Irfan ul Sheikh and Ghaznavi. In the encounter, two Army personnel however made the supreme sacrifice. The Army personnel have been identified as sepoys Ilayaraja P and Gowai SumedhWaman. Reports said as the encounter was going on, locals rushed out of their homes to pelt stones on the forces to help the holed up militants to escape. The police responded by firing tear gas shells and pellets, in which several protesters were injured.
Ghaznavi, 41, was the operational chief of the outfit in Kashmir and was one of the longest surviving militants in the Valley and had successfully mobilized the Hizbul cadres after the killing of Burhan Wani in July last year.
A resident of Budgam in central Kashmir, Ghaznavi first joined militancy in 1996 and was arrested several times. After his release in 2015, he went missing and a Hizbul statement declared him dead. However, after the killing of Burhan on July 8 Ghaznavi appeared in south Kashmir and addressed massive public rallies in different parts of the region. It was then that he again came on police radar.