In a major success for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, barely 12 hours after police constable Saleem Shah was kidnapped and killed at Kulgam in south Kashmir, the state police and the army in a swift operation shot dead three terrorists involved in the killing of the policeman.
Mr Shah was home on leave when he was kidnapped and killed. He had been undergoing training in Kathua.
The operation based on specific intelligence inputs was carried out in a residential area of Kulgam, 2 kilometres from where Mr Shah was kidnapped.
The police said one of the three terrorists who were shot dead is a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative from Pakistan, while the other two were locals.
Two AK-47 rifles and a carbine were found at the encounter site.
Forces from the Central Reserve Police Force along with the army and the state police engaged the terrorists who were holed up at a locality in Kulgam's Khudwani, 70 km from Srinagar.
"Three terrorists were killed in Kulgam early morning today. They were involved in kidnapping and killing of a police constable yesterday. Bodies of the terrorists and two AK-47 rifles have been recovered. One terrorist was associated with LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) and the two were locals," said Shesh Paul Vaid, Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir.
The security forces launched a search operation on intelligence inputs that the terrorists involved in the killing of the Kulgam police constable were hiding in the area. The search operation quickly turned into an encounter when the terrorists fired at the security forces, a police officer said.
"As the cordon was tightened, hiding terrorists opened fire, triggering an encounter," a police officer said about the Kulgam encounter.
Earlier this month, police constable Javed Ahmad Dar was kidnapped from his village in Shopian and killed by terrorists.
Last month, army jawan Aurangzeb was kidnapped and killed in Pulwama when he was going home for Eid.
Today's operation was a clear signal to those targeting security personnel on leave that they will be dealt with quickly.
"One after the other, our security forces are successfully moving ahead in their anti-militancy operations, but killings of local security personnel can be a conspiratorial design to discourage the local Kashmiri youth to join the security forces," Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said, news agency ANI reported.