jammu kashmir
jammu kashmirReuters

A close aide of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) top commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani was arrested from a check-post of Jammu & Kashmir Police and Army in Pulwama, the Army said. The arrest was reported to be a great loss for Wani as the security forces have already killed many of his men.

The arrested militant has been identified as Tariq Ahmad Pandit. The 25-year-old close aide was among the 11 militants whose photographs brandishing assault rifles were posted by 21-year-old Wani on Facebook last year.

"The militant was under surveillance for some time now and he was apprehended at a mobile naka set up by the army in Pulwama," the Hindu quoted an official as saying. Tariq was arrested by 55 Rashtriya Rifles of the Indian Army.

"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... He was apprehended by the team of Rashtriya Rifles battalion. A 9 mm pistol, two Chinese grenades and other war-like stores were recovered from him," the Indian Express quoted the Army as saying in a statement.

The Army handed over Tariq to the local police station in Pulwama, where an FIR was registered against him, Greater Kashmir reported.

The security forces have reportedly killed three of Wani's men — Naseer Ahmad Pandit, Aafaq Ahmad Bhat and Bilal Ahmad Bhat — in separate encounters since October last year. Aafaq was killed on Oct. 28 last year in Drabgam Pulwama, while Bilal was killed on April 5 in Gadoora Pulwama and Naseer on April 7 in Shopian.