The mastermind behind killing of 5 migrant labourers in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district was gunned down by security forces a day before the attack. The deceased Hizbul Mujahideen commander has been identified as Aijaz Malik, a resident of Kupwara, had planned the attack much ahead of his own death.
Aijaz Malik was an active Hizbul Mujahideen operative who was working for the banned outfit since September 2018.
He was killed on Monday night, just 24 hours before the violence in Kulgam on Tuesday. Aijaz got trapped after the killing of truck driver Narayan Dutt at Bijbehara Anantnag on October 28.
Three terrorists targeted the truck driver while he was loading apples on his truck to transport them to Delhi.
The Deputy Superintendent of Police and CRPF Deputy Commandant were not too far away when they heard the gunshots. There were on the road patrolling the apple farms over a high alert since the series of killings in neighbouring Shopian district.
Terrorists had targeted apple traders in Shopian. It took the forces only a few minutes to engage Aijaz Malik in a gunfight. While the two terrorists accompanying Malik managed to escape the cordon, he himself was trapped and finally got killed in the overnight encounter.
After no one came forward to claim the unidentified body recovered from Kanelwan, Bhijbehara, Jammu and Kashmir Police suspected the deceased might be a foreign terrorist.
The police checked with neighbouring areas of Tral, Awantipora and Anantnag but no records were found. A photograph of the dead terrorist was flashed across ten districts in order to identify him. It was later that Kupwara district claimed that the 28-year-old was a top commander from their area.
Although Aijaz had died a night before, he had already planned the killings of non-local workers.
Sources said his death at the encounter site directly linked Malik to the killing of Narayan Dutt. DGP Dilbagh Singh told the press, “It establishes complicity of Hizbul in the terror crime.”
However police officials now believe that Malik was also behind the killings of 5 labourers from Murshidabad in West Bengal. Four terror operatives believed to be from a hybrid group of Hizbul with help from Pakistan-backed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed is suspected to be behind the killings of the 5 labourers.
Four terrorists barged into the house in Kulgam on Tuesday where the 7 migrant labourers were living. One of the labourer had gone to their master’s house to get food for the masons. They were construction workers from Bengal. Five of them were killed on the spot while one was left in a critical condition.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) helped send the bodies of the labourers back home. The incident took place even as 23 members of the European Parliament in Srinagar were having dinner hosted by J&K Chief Secretary BVR Subramaniam.
Eleven non-local labourers and truck drivers have been killed in the Kashmir Valley since August 5 when the Centre scrapped J&K’s special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.