Kashmir encounter: How Junaid Sehrai, Hizb-ul commander and son of separatist leader, was trapped

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Security forces in Kashmir on Tuesday got a huge shot in the arm as they gunned down two Hizb-ul terrorists in an encounter in Srinagar. Among those killed was 29-year-old top commander Junaid Sehrai, son of Kashmiri separatist leader Ashraf Sehrai.

The two terrorists were trapped in a congested area in Kanemazar of Nawakadal and it took security forces 10 hours to complete the operation which began late Monday night.

Confirming the development, J&K DG Dilbagh Singh said, “Two terrorists were killed. Both belong to Hizbul. Body and weapons recovered. This was an intelligence-based operation in Srinagar by police along with the CRPF. Two policemen have gunshot injuries and two CRPF personnel have minor injuries.”

Junaid Sehrai alias Zafar-ul-Islam was recently appointed deputy chief commander of Hizb-ul Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir after chief Riyaz Naikoo was killed in Pulwama on May 6. Sehrai was deputy to the new chief in Kashmir Valley, Dr Saifullah.

THE OPERATION

The Jammu and Kashmir Police late Monday night launched an operation following technical inputs about the presence of terrorists in the area.

A top source said it was Junaid’s phone which led security agencies to him. “Two weeks ago, he was traced to Kangan where he came with two terrorists. He used their mobile hotspot. By the time a cordon and search was launched, he fled,” a source said. On Monday, too, Junaid was in Srinagar for a meeting.

Shortly before 2 am, a cordon and search operation was laid out. A grenade was lobbed at approaching security forces at 3 am, confirming contact.

With area immersed in darkness, the Jammu and Kashmir followed SOP, suspending mobile internet and voice calls, barring BSNL in the area. Later in the morning, contact was re-established and the two terrorists were gunned down.

With Junaid’s killing, all top six commanders of terror organisations in the Valley have been eliminated by security forces.

Junaid Sehrai’s journey in Hizb-ul terror ranks began in March 2018. Days after his father Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai replaced Syed Ali Shah Geelani as chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief, Junaid went missing after Friday prayers.

Junaid Ashraf Khan had left home for prayers near his house in Baghat locality, but soon his photos started to appear on social media brandishing a gun, announcing to world he has joined terror organisation Hizbul Mujahideen.

Junaid’s elder brother Khalid, who reportedly works in Saudi Arabia, lodged a missing persons complaint with Sadder Police Station in Srinagar in March, 2018.

The family, however, made no overtures or appeals for Junaid (then a 26-year-old) to return back home. Even security forces made efforts to ensure that Junaid returns to the main fold, but it did not happen.

Sources said the family will not be given Junaid’s body as per the new SOP of security forces. Both bodies will be buried in Sheeri in Baramulla.

ALSO READ | Kashmiri separatist leader’s son among 2 Hizb-ul Mujahideen terrorists killed in encounter
ALSO READ | Decrease in number of local youths joining militancy: J-K DGP
ALSO WATCH | Hizbul commander gunned down in Kashmir encounter

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