Security forces killed the 'commander' of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's South Kashmir division Mohammad Ashraf Shah who is ranked 2nd in Hizb's hierarchy and earned a reputation of clever and ruthless terrorist who also tried facilitating a ceasefire.
Shah is supposed to have engineered a host of high-profile car bombs, execution of over 100 civilians and political activists suspected of colluding with the government.
Shah was in a safe house Bijbehara, south of Srinagar, waiting to meet a senior leader of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), which has played a major role in out-of-band conversation with terrorist groups often with questionable process. PDP leader and former Chief Minister Muft Mohammed Sayeed, who was also a former Home Minister who release many terrorists in exchange for his hostage daughter in 1989, had even floated a controversial autonomy plan which has been since rebuked by many political leaders across party lines. His daughter Mehbooba Mufti was even accused of providing sanctuary to terrorists before the story was pulled off the media radar. Interestingly, the safe house was only a few meters away from Sayeed's family residence.
As a group, the Hizb has been marginalized by sustained cutback of funding by Pakistan for its demonstrated neutral approach, senior militant surrenders, and killing of terrorist leadership. Recognizing the erosion of its power and influence, Shah had recommended to his chief in Pakistan to embrace a ceasefire. However, groups without local affiliations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, al-Umar, and the Jammu Kashmir Islamic Front attacked the Hizb for making "pointless calls for a ceasefire" as they do not stand to gain in material, politics, or in their narrow agenda in destabilizing India.
Major Manish Pitambare of the 3 Para Regiment was also killed in the raid.