Srinagar: From being a school dropout to becoming one of the most wanted terrorists in the Valley, Mohammad Abass Sheikh met his fate on Monday when he along with his close associate fell to the bullets of the police in a gunfight here, ending his over two decades reign of terror.
Sheikh (45), a resident of Rampora village of Qaimoh in Jammu and Kashmir”s Kulgam district, was the operational chief commander of the The Resistance Force (TRF), an offshoot of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and his killing is being considered as one of the biggest successes of security forces.
Earlier, two of his brothers — both terrorists affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit – were killed by security forces in separate encounters in south Kashmir.
Among the top 10 terrorist commanders of the Valley, Sheikh along with his deputy, Saqib Manzoor, were killed in a brief shootout with police personnel at the Aloochi Bagh locality of the city.
Arrested on several occasions in the past, Sheikh got into militancy every time after coming out of jail. He has carried out a number of sensational attacks including in Srinagar city and its outskirts in the recent past and among these were targeted killing of policemen.
Security officials said though he had been sent to school, Sheikh, born in 1975, did not show interest in studies and gave up education at an early stage.
Growing up, he started working as a tailor at Qaimoh but his elder brother Mohammad Ibrahim joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in 1992 and became a dreaded terrorist, they said.
Ibrahim was killed in an encounter with security forces in 1996 at Redwani village of Kulgamm, the officials said.
“This gave an alarming boost to the sentiments of Sheikh and he indulged in militancy, though he was married at this stage and father of a child. His other brother, Mohammad Ashraf Sheikh (Molvi), also affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit got killed in an encounter at Thokerpora Qaimoh,” an official said.
In 2002, Sheikh was deputed to Srinagar by the Hizbul Mujahideen under the directions of self-styled supreme commander Salahudin to get details of actions carried out by the outfit published in print media.
However, he was arrested by the BSF at Lal Chowk here along with arms and ammunition two years later and a case was registered against him, the officials said.
He was detained under the Public Safety Act and lodged in Kot Bilwal Jail in Jammu, but after his release he again got in terrorism in 2005.
The officials said he was expelled by the Hizbul Mujahideen in 2007 for some reason and he joined the Jash-e-Mohammad, but was again arrested in 2014.
After his release in 2015, he again joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, they said.
Sheikh was also arrested in October 2007 when he along with his associate Abdul Majeen was trying to hurl a grenade on security forces near a petrol pump in Qaimoh, the officials said.
They said Sheikh was named in over two dozen terrorism-related cases in Kashmir, including several sensational attacks in Srinagar this year.
The major terror attacks carried out by him included an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion in the Subhanpora locality of Shamsipora on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway on January 27, resulting in the death of an army jawan and injuries to three others.
On February 19, he along with his associates shot dead two policemen near Bhagat Chowk on the Srinagar-airport road and on March 25 led an attack on a road opening party of the CRPF at Lawaypora on the outskirts of Srinagar, killing two of the force”s personnel.
Sheikh and his associates shot dead a police inspector at Nowgam in Srinagar on June 22, injured seven persons, including five CRPF jawans, in a grenade attack at Nawabazar area of Srinagar on May 7, shot dead a policeman at Saidpora locality of Srinagar on June 17 and killed a mobile shop owner at Habbakadal in Srinagar on June 23, the officials said.
Sheikh and his other associates also killed a policeman and injured two others at Adijan crossing in Kulgam district on August 7, they said.
The officials said he had a long list of cases filed against him in different police stations between 2006 and 2021 in Kulgam and other districts related to terror atrocities including attacks on civilians, government officials and security forces.