Militants in south Kashmir have suffered back-to-back setbacks within a week with the killing of five leading militant commanders who served as the backbone and the muscle of insurgency in the region.
The five militant commanders killed in the three gunfights within a week from April 30 operated in three of the four districts of south Kashmir, a region dotted with apple orchards and rice fields which has become the ground zero of new militancy.
The most prominent militant killed in the past week was Saddam Padder, a resident of Heff village of Shopian who had joined militant ranks in September 2014 and was an associate of Burhan Wani.
He was shot dead in a gunfight in Badigam village of Shopian on Sunday along with four other militants, three of whom were local-level commanders and one, an assistant professor at a university, was a new entrant.
Padder was one of the first youth to join militant ranks from Shopian when the district was still insulated from the growing influence of new-age militancy. In recent years, he had emerged as the backbone of insurgency network in Shopian as the south Kashmir district emerged as a stronghold of militants.
At least two other militants killed along with Padder were significant commanders in south Kashmir. Adil Malik of Malikgund village of Shopian had joined militant ranks in August 2014. Touseef Ahmad Sheikh was also a key militant and operated mainly in his native Kulgam district. A resident of Rampora village, Sheikh had joined militant ranks in 2013 and was later joined by his uncle Mohammad Abbas Sheikh who became a militant in 2015.
The other key militant killed was Showkat Tak of Pulwama’s Panzgam village who was affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba and was its local commander. Tak was killed during a gunfight on Saturday in Srinagar’s Chatabal locality in which two other militants were also killed.
Another key militant killed in the last seven days was Sameer Ahmad Bhat, alias Tiger, who was killed on April 30 in his native Drobgam village of Pulwama district. Sameer ‘Tiger’, as he was known among locals, had become a prominent militant in Pulwama and was described by police as a “top commander”. He was involved in several high-profile attacks.
These five militants were categorised either as A-plus-plus or as A in police records, meaning they were on top of the wanted list and carried significant prize money. The killing of these five commanders is a severe setback to the militant network in south Kashmir, the region where they had gained strength in recent years.
Ground zero of militancy
The five militant commanders, including Saddam Padder and Sameer Tiger, killed in the three gunfights within a week from April 30 operated in three of the four districts of south Kashmir, a region which has become the ground zero of new militancy
These militants were categorised either as A-plus-plus or as A in police records. The killing of these five commanders is a severe setback to the militant network in south Kashmir