In what police called a major success, security forces gunned down Lashkar-e-Toiba’s commander in Kashmir, Abu Qasim, in an encounter in Kulgam district on Thursday night. Inspector General of Police Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani that police and army in a joint operation killed Qasim when they laid a cordon in Khandipura village in Kulgam at 5 pm on Thursday. “We had information that there are chances that Abu Qasim might come to the village. We laid a cordon at 5 pm and Abu Qasim came at 2 am in the night. He was killed in a brief encounter,” Gillani told media persons at police headquarters here. “Qasim’s killing is a major success for us as it has dented the operation capabilities of LeT. It would be a setback for LeT,” Gillani said. Qasim, according to IGP, was the mastermind behind the Udhampur attack in which a Pakistani militant Naveed was caught alive earlier this year. Qasim, who was active in Kashmir from the last five years, was on the NIA radar, and a bounty of Rs 20 lakhs had been placed on his head. “Qasim headed the LeT form the last three years, and was actively involved in some major attacks on security forces and was the brain behind these attacks,” he said. Gilani said Qasim was working closely with other militant outfits in the state like Hizbul Mujahideen. “It (Qasim’s death) is a big dent to militancy,” he said. The Kashmir police chief said Qasim was also responsible for the killing of a leading counter-insurgency police officer, Sub-Inspector Altaf Ahmed, in north Kashmir’s Bandipore district earlier this month. In his early thirties, Qasim, a resident of Pakistan, was also the brain behind the deadly attack on an Army convoy in Srinagar in 2013, which had left eight soldiers dead. The attack had taken place on the eve of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the Valley. Efforts to apprehend Qasim were intensified after his alleged involvement in the killing of a police sub-inspector Altaf Ahmad and Udhampur attack.
2015 Kashmir Despatch