Jammu: Top Hizbul-Mujahideen commander Chota Hafiz, an accused in the 2011 Delhi High Court blast, was on Thursday killed in an encounter with security forces in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. Hafiz, prime accused in the blast which claimed 15 lives, was killed in a joint operation of Special Operation Group of Police and Army in Kaderna forest belt, 238 kms from here, around 7.15 pm, Deputy Inspector General of Kishtwar-Doda-Ramban Range, Gareeb Dass said.
After an hour-long cordoning of the area, a fierce battle took place between security forces and the militants in which Hafiz was killed, he said. "The body has been recovered and police would continue its search operation in the area in the morning...It is a major success. He was lone surviving militant involved in the Delhi HC blast case," DIG said.
Chota Hafiz, along with two other top Hizbul-Mujahideen terrorists Amir Ali Kamal and Junaid Akram Malik, was named as accused in the Delhi High Court blast case by the National Investigation Agency. 15 people were killed and over 50 injured on September 7, 2011 blast in the Delhi high court premises.
The security forces began their operation in the area around 4:30 pm and an hour later the gunbattle began, Defence spokesman S N Acharya said. The militants opened fire indiscriminately when challenged by the troops of Rashtriya Rifles, Acharya said, adding that Hafiz was killed in retaliatory fire by the security personnel.
"One rifle of AK series and four magazines were recovered from the slain militant," he said. Shakir Hussain Sheikh alias Chota Hafiz alias Adil (25) belongs to Palmar area in Kishtwar district and was active in the mountainous belt since 2005. Hafiz had also been accused in several other cases in the Kishtwar region, the Defence spokesperson said.
Another militant, Sajad Ahmed Mir alias Rizwan, who had escaped from the scene, was later arrested. NIA along with the state police had earlier launched several operations in Kishtwar hills to track down the accused in the Delhi High Court blast case.
Police believes that Junaid was also killed in clash of militants since there has been no news about his movement in the area.