Srinagar: Hours after denying as "baseless" reports of a top Hizbul Mujahideen operative surrendering in Jammu and Kashmir, the army on Saturday finally said it had captured the militant in the state's Pulwama district.
"In a major blow to the HM outfit, Tariq Pandit, a close aide of Burhan Wani was apprehended by army in a well coordinated swift operation today on Newa-Pinglana road of Pulwama," said an army statement here.
Security forces had earlier on Saturday said that Tariq Pandit, a close associate of Burhan Wani, the most wanted Hizbul commander in south Kashmir, had surrendered and some senior police officers and even defence sources had individually confirmed the development to media.
But soon after, Srinagar-based defence spokesman Colonel N.N. Joshi told reporters here that the "reports of Tariq's surrender are absolutely baseless".
However, the army statement finally confirmed the news.
It said that "based on specific intelligence input regarding the move of a HM terrorist on the Neva-Pinglana road near Karimabad" in Pulwama, a joint mobile vehicle check post was set up by army and police early on Saturday.
"The move of the terrorist was kept under constant surveillance... as the terrorist closed in, he was apprehended by the team of Rashtriya Rifle battalion," it said, adding that a 9 mm pistol, two Chinese grenades and other war like stores were recovered from Pandit.
"The terrorist was involved in many terror related incidents in Pulwama area.
"An FIR has been registered and the apprehended terrorist has been handed over to the local police station, Pulwama," said the statement.