Jammu and Kashmir lost one of its best counter-insurgency police officers on Thursday, after he was gunned down in an encounter with suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants in the state's Bandipore district.
Nicknamed the '24-hour duty cop,' Sub-Inspector Altaf Ahmed was the head of a Special Investigation Team and was considered thebackbone of counter-insurgency operations in the state.
Ahmed was shot in on Wednesday when he was on a covert mission to track down Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Qasim. He was airlifted to Army’s 92 Base Hospital at Badamibagh cantonment where he was declared 'brought dead.'
"I am unable talk on camera. I might break down," director general of police K Rajindra Kumar told NDTV.
Altaf was the recipient of the President's police medal for gallantry and several other state bravery awards.
A resident of Kulgam in south Kashmir, Altaf is survived by his wife and two children aged four and two.
Besides top officers of the police, Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, former CM Omar Abdullah and senior intelligence officials paid their tributes to the officer.
Here are four things you need to know about the officer:
1. He was the main man behind neutralizing Hizb-ul-Mujahideen network
The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is a Kashmiri separatist group, designated as a terrorist organisation by India, which has been active in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989.
According to an Economic Times report, Altaf almost neutralized the Hizbul Mujahideen network in the valley between 2006-07. He also exposed another high profile militant network of a police-constable-turned-militant Abdul Rashid Shigan, who was arrested along with two other militants in 2012.
Ahmed also played a key role in operations in which HM's top commanders Qazi Misbah-ud-Din, Muzaffar Dar, Hanief Khan were killed.
2. He played an important role in Masarat Alam's arrest
Ahmed was also responsible for tracking and arresting separatist leader Masarat Alam during the 2010 uprising.
Alam, who is the chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Muslim League (JKML) and the general secretary of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, is believed to have mobilized people for protests during the 2008 uprising and 2010 riots in which at least 112 people had died and over 500 were injured.
"Altaf was one of our best officers. He has done tremendous work on the anti-terrorism front. It is big loss for us," Kashmir police chief SJM Giliani told India Today.
3. Altaf's technical surveillance skills
Ahmed, who was in his thirties, joined the department as a constable and rose through the ranks as he mastered the art of tracking militants through mobile phones.
“He took a loan to buy a laptop and started recording phone calls of militants. Soon, everyone recognized his efforts and he was heading a separate counter-insurgency unit,” an officer told The Indian Express.
He was promoted out-of-turn thrice since 2006 and was due for another one this year.
4. His work against the LeT
Altaf was credited with raiding many LeT hideouts and arresting hundreds of militants over the last ten years.
According to reports, he was the brain behind 33 per cent of the operations against militants.
In fact, it was the same terrorist organization that led to his demise as Altaf, with two colleagues, was tracking down Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Qasim, for his alleged role in the terror attack on a BSF convoy in Udhampur in August, when he was shot and killed.