BUDGAM: Lateef Rather, the Resistance Front (TRF) chief and one of the masterminds of targeted killings in Kashmir, was eliminated by security forces in an anti-terror operation here.
Vijay Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Kashmir Zone, stated that all three LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) terrorists were neutralised during an encounter in Budgam district on Wednesday.
The three terrorists have been identified as Rather, Muzaffar Chopon and Saqib Ahmad.
ADGP Vijay Kumar said that Latif Rather was involved in the killing of several innocent civilians, including the murders of Rahul Bhatt and Aamreen Bhatt.
Rather is an A++ category terrorist and carries a reward of ₹10 lakh. He is known as the mastermind behind the killings of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.
Police said all the terrorists were part of a group involved in several terror crime cases, including civilian atrocities. Rather @Abdullah Bhai was apprehended by police in a terror crime case in 2001.
After his release from jail in 2013, he again joined the LeT outfit and started operating as a close associate of LeT Commander Abu Qasim, a Pakistani national.
As per police records, he was responsible for a fidayeen attack on an Army convoy in the Hyderpora area on June 24, 2013. Eight Indian Army jawans were killed in the attack.
Besides, Rather was also responsible for plotting, planning and killing of SHO PS Chadoora Martyr SI Shabir Ahmed in 2013.
Rather was once again arrested by police in 2013. However, he again joined Let/TRF following his release in November 2021.
In February, Rather became the commander of TRF. He then carried out several terror crimes, including the killing of a Kashmiri Pandit employee, Rahul Bhat, and an artiste, Amreen Bhat, in the Chadoora area, on the instructions of his cross-border handler, Sajjad Gul.
Moreover, Rather was also involved in recruiting the gullible youth of Budgam, Pulwama and Srinagar areas to strengthen the terror folds of proscribed terror outfit TRF in these areas.
Earlier, a joint team of police, Army and CRPF launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) on specific information about the presence of militants in the Muqam area of Waterhal in the district.
An official said that as the joint team of forces approached the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired upon them, which retaliated, triggering a gunfight.
A total of 26 persons have lost their lives in targeted killings by terrorists in Kashmir this year so far. The slain persons include seven policemen and eight civilians, of whom six belong to the minority community.
Besides, seven policemen have also been killed in the targeted attacks. Two CRPF jawans, two RPF men and an off-duty army jawan were also killed in targeted killings by the terrorists. Four elected panchayat members – three sarpanches and a panch – were also shot dead in targeted attacks by militants.
On January 29, police head constable Ali Mohammad Ganai was shot dead near his home in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, in the first targeted attack of the year. The last targeted attack took place on June 17 evening when terrorists shot dead police sub-inspector Farooq Ahmad Mir in Pulwama.
While only one targeted killing took place in January, the figure increased after the winter season. As many as eight targeted killings took place in March, five in April, seven in May and three in June so far.
Of the 23 targeted attacks in which 24 persons were killed, 10 took place in south Kashmir, 11 in central Kashmir and two in north Kashmir.