Shock and grief as counter-insurgency hero Altaf Ahmad Dar is shot dead by militants. He was in his late 30s, was killed in an encounter with militants in north Kashmir’s Bandipora area.
Senior police officers describe him as “a man who single handedly finished the dreaded Hizbul Mujahideen”. They say his photo is in the United Jihad Council (UJC) office in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and the UJC would call him ‘Altaf laptop’. Such was his stature that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would send IPS officers to get training under him.
But on Wednesday, his tryst with terror came to an end. One of Kashmir’s most active and competent counter-insurgency officers, Inspector Altaf Ahmad Dar , who was in his late 30s, was killed in an encounter with militants in north Kashmir’s Bandipora area. He was tracking some militants who were on their way to receive their accomplices , who had recently infiltrated into the state, a top police official said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police described his killing as a huge loss to police force.
“He was brilliant. One of the best among us. It is a huge and irreparable loss. Very difficult to overcome this shock,” said a senior superintendent of police known for his counter insurgency operations. Since 2004, all Hizbul Mujahideen top commanders, including their chiefs, were killed or arrested in operations carried out by him. Officials say he was responsible for neutralising and arrest of top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen including Mohammad Gaznavi, Gazi Misbahudin, Dr Dawood, who is now in NIA custody, Rayees Kachur, Pervez Mushraff, Junaid-ul-Islam and many others. “Countless successful operations are to his credit,” said an official.
He was also responsible for tracking and arresting separatist leader Masarat Alam during 2010 summer uprising.
Police officers describe him as one-man army and say his killing would affect whole operation network of police. They said he was number one on the hit list of militants. “Altaf was one of our best officers. He has done tremendous work on anti-terrorism front. It is big loss for us,” Kashmir police chief SJM Giliani said.
Altaf was known for his intelligence gathering, tracking militants and leading the operations. Senior officers say he was brilliant in technical surveillance.
Dar, a graduate, was hailing from south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. He was recruited in police service in 1998 as a constable. But due to his exceptional record in counter insurgency operations he got four promotions and was handling the special investigation team at Rajbagh police station in Srinagar, which would track militants across Kashmir, hawala transactions, and solve militancy-related cases.
Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed visited the police control room where he offered his condolences to the slain officer. Former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah also paid a tribute to Dar.
Director General of Police, K Rajendra Kumar, said “In today’s operation intelligence was generated by him and he was personally leading the operation.” Kumar described him as exemplary police officer with heart of lion and intelligence of exceptional nature. He said he had passion for hard work and led relentless operations against militants in which a number of top militants were killed during the last decade.