Kashmiri Pandit Rahul Bhat’s killer was a recycled terrorist
Srinagar: Top TRF terrorist commander Lateef Rather, who killed Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit government employee in May 2022, and who was among the three terrorists eliminated in an encounter in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Wednesday was involved in several terror crime cases, including civilian atrocities, police said.
The police added that the killed terrorist Lateef Rather alias Abdullah Bhai was a second time recycled terrorist of LeT/TRF outfit as he was apprehended by police in a terror crime case in 2001.
Post his release from jail in 2013, he again joined LeT outfit and started operating as a close associate of Top LeT Commander Abu Qasim.
“As per police records, he was responsible for a fidayeen attack on June 24, 2013, in Hyderpora area on an Army convoy in which eight Army personnel got martyred,” police said.
“Besides, he was also responsible for plotting, planning and killing of Station House Officer of Chadoora police station, martyred Sub-Inspector Shabir Ahmed in 2013.”
Later, Lateef was again arrested by the police in 2013 and prosecuted for his involvement in several terror crime case; however in November 2021 he was released from jail.
Post his release, Lateef again started working for LeT/TRF outfit in Srinagar and joined terror in February 2022 and assumed the role as TRF Commander.
“During 2022, on the directions of his Pakistan-based handler Sajjad Gul, killed terrorist Lateef Rather carried out several terror crimes and civilian atrocities, including killing of Kashmiri Pandit Rahul Bhat and an artiste Amreen Bhat in Chadoora area,” police added.
“Moreover, he was also involved in recruiting the innocent youth of Budgam/Pulwama/Srinagar areas to strengthen the terror ranks of proscribed terror outfit TRF in these areas.”
On Wednesday, acting on a technical input generated by Special Operations Group, Srinagar, about the presence of a group of terrorists in Waterhail area of Budgam, Budgam Police along with Army and CRPF launched a joint cordon and search operation.
During the search operation, as the joint party preceded towards the suspected site, the hiding terrorists fired indiscriminately upon the search party which was retaliated effectively leading to an encounter.
In the ensuing encounter, three terrorists of proscribed terror outfit LeT (TRF) were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
The killed terrorists were identified as Lateef Rather, Saqib Mushtaq Khan and Muzaffar Ahmad Chopan.