Wednesday, March 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Killer of 23 Pandits shot dead
Tribune News Service and agencies

SRINAGAR, March 14 — At least six militants, including a top activist of the Hizbul Mujahideen, were killed in two separate encounters with the security forces in the Ganderbal area yesterday.

Gaada (fish in Kashmiri) is also said to be responsible for the massacre of 23 Pandits at Wandhama on January 26, 1998 and for the attack on a Rashtriya Rifles post at Badampura in Manasbal on March 5, 2000 in which certain Army personnel were killed. Besides, he had also masterminded a large number of IED attacks on the security forces.

Abdul Hamid Gaada, a son of fisherman, had created terror in the Ganderbal Assembly constituency and adjoining areas. As years passed by, myths started being woven about him. The security forces dared not hunt for him. One myth that had unnerved the security forces was that Gaada could remain in water for hours together. And many would believe it because the security forces had failed to track him down.

Hamid, according to the police, had been instrumental in the killing of over 100 people, including security personnel, soldiers, police informers and renegade militants.

When counter insurgents had cleaned Ganderbal, Safapore, Sumbal and adjoining areas between 1993 and 1995, Gaada surfaced like a phoenix and eliminated most of the renegade militants.

He played a key role in ensuring people’s boycott of the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 as a result the Ganderbal Assembly segment witnessed just 10 per cent polling.

The slain terrorist carried two rewards of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh on his head. When the Director General Police, Mr Jagat, received a report that Gaada had been eliminated he conveyed his appreciation of the security forces on the phone to the Inspector General, Police, Kashmir Range, Inspector General Operations, and men of the Special Operation Group (SOG) of the police.

Men of the SOG, involved in eliminating Gaada would be suitably rewarded, it is learnt.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said here that Gaada, alias Bombar Khan, a “Divisional Commander” of the Hizbul Mujahideen was killed by the Army and the SOG at Sindbal, Ganderbal last evening. Two of his accomplices, including Mohammad Abdullah Shah, alias Marshal, and Maqbool Sheikh were also killed in the encounter. Marshal carried a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head.

The spokesman said that six AK 47 rifles, one .303 rifle, one radio set, three remote control devices, a large number of grenades, RPG rounds and explosives were found from the site of the encounter.

Giving details of the incident, the spokesman said that the security forces cordoned off the village at about 4.30 pm on Monday on the receipt of the information about the presence of militants. Three militants were killed in the encounter, after the militants in hiding opened fire on the search party. The security forces busted the major hideout, the spokesman said.

Gaada was regarded as the most wanted militant in the area who was the chief coordinator of all the activities and distributor of finance, arms, ammunition in Srinagar, Ganderbal and Bandipore areas.

In another incident, on the receipt of a specific information, three foreign mercenaries were killed in an encounter with the security forces and the police in the Chunt Waliwar area of Ganderbal yesterday evening. Two of them have been identified as Hafiz and Loraib of the Al-Badr, both are Pakistani nationals. Three AK-47 rifles, one grenade launcher and one radio set were found from the site of the encounter.

Three security personnel were wounded when militants ambushed a security patrol in Udhampur district of the Jammu region last night, an official spokesman said here today.

The ambush was carried out by a group of heavily-armed militants at Jabba-Nika village in the Gool area of Udhampur, the spokesman said. Although the security forces returned fire, militants escaped after the ambush.

The injured jawans were rushed to hospital where their condition was stated to be “critical”, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, two top militants identified as self-styled district commander of Tahreek-ul-Mujahideen and self-styled district administrator of Hizbul Mujahideen were arrested from their hideouts at Repora and Guthpora in Badgam district.

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