SRINAGAR: In a major breakthrough, the security forces on Tuesday gunned down a Pakistan-backed terrorist and the killer of Kashmiri Pandit Sanjay Sharma in a fierce encounter that broke out in the Padgampura area in South Kashmir`s Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. The slain terrorist was identified as Aqib Mushtaq Bhat, a resident of Pulwama. He was also an A-category-listed terrorist wanted by the security forces. Bhat initially worked for Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) terror outfit. However, he had recently joined the ranks with TRF.

Sharing more information about the status of the encounter, the ADGP Kashmir said that the “killer of Kashmiri Pandit Sanjay Sharma has been neutralised.” 

Awantipora Encounter Update | Killed terrorist identified as Aqib Mustaq Bhat from Pulwama. He initially worked for the Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit, nowadays he had been working with TRF. The killer of Kashmiri Pandit, Sanjay Sharma has been neutralised: ADGP Kashmir
— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2023

However, one of the two Army soldiers, who were also injured during the encounter, succumbed to his injuries while another is said to be critical at the moment. He is being treated in ICU at 92 Base Army Hospital, said sources.

Both soldiers had sustained serious injuries during the Awantipora encounter. While one terrorist was killed, 1-2 terrorists are still believed to be hiding in the area, sources claimed.

The firefight started after a joint team of police and security forces got input about the presence of terrorists in that area. After security forces cordoned off the area, terrorists hiding there started firing drawing retaliation from the security forces.

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Sanjay Sharma, a security guard, was gunned down by terrorists when he was on his way to the local market on Sunday. He was shifted to the hospital however, he succumbed to injuries. It has to be noted that this is the first attack on a Hindu civilian in the last four months.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, who paid a visit to his residence, demanded Rs five lakh compensation to be paid to the three children of the deceased Kashmiri Pandit. She said everyone is ashamed of the killing of Sanjay Sharma while at the same she aimed at the government for their crackdowns against Muslims in the name of eroding militancy. 

She also said that the children of Sanjay Sharma should be given compensation of Rs five lakh each and a job to a family member in Jammu. “Sanjay`s sister`s sons should also be provided security,” she added. 

Last year, there were a number of targeted killings in Kashmir. Several of the casualties were migrant workers or Pandits from Kashmir. There have been a series of encounters between terrorists and security forces across Kashmir in the recent past in which many terrorists have been eliminated. 

Meanwhile, a massive search & cordon operation is still underway in the area, said sources. 

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I4K Staff

India 4 Kashmir is a Pan-India movement to reclaim our lost ground and rehabilitate common Indians in Kashmir with dignity and honour.