A joint team consisting of Jammu and Kashmir Police's Special Operation Group, local police, the CRPF and the Indian Army killed top Jaish-e-Mohammed chief commander Umer Khalid in Ladoora area of North Kashmir, according to a police statement.
Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police SP Vaid said it was a major breakthrough for the security forces as the militant was involved in many attacks on security camps in north Kashmir, and was regularly targeting policemen in particular.
Khalid, alias Shah Showkat, was the mastermind of the recent fidayeen (suicide) attack on the BSF camp near the Srinagar airport, according to The Hindu.
"He was also involved in a fidayeen attack on the 46 Rashtriya Rifles camp in 2016 at Khajabagh, Baramulla. He was the mastermind of the attack on District Police Line Pulwama and the BSF camp near the Humhama airport this year," the report quoted the police as saying.
Khalid had also recently carried out an attack on a Special Police Officer and his seven-year-old son at Handwara, police said, and added that he was an 'A++ category' terrorist who carried a bounty of nearly Rs 7 lakh, PTI reported.
On Monday, Livemint had quoted a senior home ministry official as saying, "Khalid has been on the most wanted list of terrorists for a long time now. He had been groomed by the top brass of the JeM and his presence in the Valley was wreaking havoc because the JeM specialises in fidayeen attacks and Khalid was masterminding such attacks.”
Khalid, who was a Pakistani national, had been operational in the Valley for several years, and was also instrumental in arranging recruits for the terror outfit. He is also said to have been the mastermind behind mobilising the youth for militancy in the region.
"He was motivating youth and poor boys to join Jaish for execution of grenade attacks against monetary benefits," The New Indian Express quoted a police officer as saying.
Giving details of the encounter, the police said security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Ladoora area following information about the presence of militants in the area.
The search operation turned into a gunbattle when the militants opened fire on the search party, the police said, adding that more troops were rushed to the area to prevent the militants from escaping.
NDTV reported that security forces launched the operation on Monday while Khalid was visiting his girlfriend, who reportedly had tipped the police of the JeM commander's movements.
"He had about 17 girlfriends — some new, some old. A few who he had ditched became vengeful and even started giving information about his whereabouts to us," the report quoted a senior police officer who was involved in Monday's encounter.
But intelligence officials are skeptical of the change the encounter will bring to militancy in the Valley.
"What happened in Kashmir after Burhan Wani will not be repeated. Militant groups always find the next person to take over from where the previous leader left. It does not hamper their operations. None of these killings will have any radical impact on militancy. It is only the top leaders in Pakistan such as Masood Azhar who really matter," Livemint quoted a senior intelligence official as saying.