(Eds: (Adds IG Police’s quote, background)) Srinagar, Feb 12 (PTI) In a major success, security forces shot dead Hizbul Mujahideen militant Hilal Ahmed Rather, who had helped dreaded LeT terrorist Naved Jhatt escape, during an encounter in South Kashmir Tuesday in which an Army jawan was also killed, officials said.

Rather, 21, was killed in the encounter in Ratnipora area of Pulwama, a district highly infested by militants, after a tip-off was received by the Jammu and Kashmir Police about his presence during the intervening night.

A cordon and search operation was launched by the police along with the Army and the CRPF. As it was going on, the militants fired upon the security forces, who retaliated effectively, a police spokesman said.

In the ensuing encounter, one militant was killed and his body was retrieved from the site of encounter.

“Rather was the main accused in the escape of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant Naved Jhatt from a Srinagar hospital,” Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) Swayam Prakash Pani said.

His body was handed over to family members after completion of all legal formalities.

The name of Rather, a class 12 passout, first surfaced when a Special Investigation Team, formed to crack Jhatt’s escape, found that he was the main conspirator. He had hatched a conspiracy with other militants to secure the release of Jhatt when he was taken to SMHS hospital for a routine check-up in February last year.

Jhatt was killed in an encounter with the police on November 28 last year in Budgam district of Central Kashmir.

The spokesman said Rather was affiliated with the banned Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and had a long history of terror crimes, including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities, the spokesman said.

He said incriminating materials, including arms and ammunition, were recovered from the site of encounter.

“All these materials have been taken in the case records for the purpose of investigation,” he said.

He said two security personnel also sustained gunshot injuries in the encounter and were rushed to a hospital. One of them, Jawan Baljeet Singh, succumbed to injuries, the spokesman said, adding the other soldier is being treated.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.