- Noor Mohammad Tantray had joined the Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2015
- He was killed today in an encounter in south Kashmir's Pulwama
- He was involved in a lot of major attacks in the Valley
The 47-year-old, a resident of Tral, was said to be the "chief architect" of an attack on a Border Security Force (BSF) camp near the Srinagar International Airport in October. He was also said to be involved in a grenade attack on a minister's cavalcade in Tral in September. In fact, he had played an important role in most major attacks in the Kashmir Valley since taking control of the terror group in July this year, police said.
Security forces are calling Noor Mohammad's killing a huge success as he had become a "headache" in the Valley.
His death is being seen as a huge blow to the terror group, police say, as he was the force behind the revival of JeM in south and central Kashmir.
SP Vaid, Director General of police, said Noor Mohammad and his associates were planning to attack a convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. But they managed to get to him in time.
"It was a clean operation based on specific intelligence inputs," a senior police officer involved in the operation told NDTV. "However, by the time security forces laid cordon, two terrorists managed to escape. Search operations in area are on to identify and arrest them," he added.
Noor Mohammad was arrested in Delhi in 2003 and sentenced to life by a Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court in 2011. He jumped parole and joined the JeM. "He was convicted for life, however, the court allowed him to serve his life sentence in Kashmir. He was granted a 21-day parole in 2015, but he had been on the run since then," the officer said.
While his physical feature made it easier to identify him and therefore, restricted his movement in the area, it happened to be the reason why he was recruited by the terror group. "No one would suspect him to be a terrorist and that is why JeM recruited him as an over-ground worker," said a senior police officer who had arrested him in Delhi with a sack full of currency.
Noor Mohammad soon became the chief finance handler for JeM and received funds from across the border for terror activities. "He was also responsible for identifying his sources and keeping the cadre motivated," the officer added.
Kashmir police chief Muneer Khan told NDTV that he had become an active terrorist in the last few months. "He identified targets and planned the attacks. All attacks along the highways were designed by him. He used to identify escape routes as well," he said.
According to intelligence officials, the JeM had consolidated their strength this year. However, in last three months, the forces have managed to eliminate 15 of their cadres in south Kashmir itself.
"Their fighting strength has gone down. December and January are crucial months for us as most big attacks conducted by the JeM have taken place in these months," said a senior Ministry of Home Affairs official.