Militants appear at funeral, fire gun salutes
Kulgam: Two teenage local boys, militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, were killed in a brief encounter with government forces, here in Gopalpora village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district onWednesday night.
The slain militants, identified as 16-year-old Aqib Ittoo, son of Abdul Hamid Ittoo of Gopalpora village, and 17-year-old Suhail Rather, son of Muhammad Arif, resident of Tantraypora village in Yaripora area of Kulgam district.
Both Aqib and Suhail were students, before they joined the Hizb. Aqib joined in September last year and Suhail in this year’s March.
The encounter was reported from Gopalpora at about 11:45 PM Wednesday night.
According to police, a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) was launched in the area after intelligence inputs of militants being in the area.
“It was a joint operation of police, 9 RR and 62 RR of army, and 18 Bn of the paramilitary CRPF,” a senior police official informed Kashmir Reader.
He said the area was being combed and the militants tried to flee from a house, by using indiscriminate gunfire as their cover.
“The fire was returned and the militants were cornered in the open. They were killed during the brief exchange of fire,” the official said.
He said that an AK-47 and an INSAS rifle (snatched recently from a police post) were retrieved from the possession of the killed militants.
After the identification process and the medico-legal formalities, the bodies were handed over to their families for burial.
Police maintained that the duo was involved in many “unlawful” activities.
“Aqib was involved in the attack on JK Bank cash van in Pombai, leaving five policemen and two civilians dead. He also was involved in the killing of a policeman in Yaripora and a bank robbery at Kadyer in Yaripora,” a police statement read.
Strict restrictions were imposed in parts of Kulgam including on roads leading to Gopalpora and Tantraypora, since early Thursday morning.
The restrictions could not prevent thousands of people from attending both the funerals of the local militants.
According to local sources, people in thousands thronged both Tantraypora and Gopalpora to pay their last respects to the slain.
Both the militants were draped in the Pakistan flags. People raised pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans.
At least five funerals prayers were held for Aqib, before he was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard.
For Suhail, the first funeral prayer was led by his maternal uncle, followed by multiple others led by different people.
Amid the funeral prayers for Suhail, armed militants appeared and offered multiple gun salutes to their fallen fellow.
The mourners dispersed peacefully after the funeral prayers.
Meanwhile, the restrictions remained in several parts of Kulgam. Simultaneously, a complete shutdown was being observed in neighbouring Anantnag.
There were no clashes anywhere in the two districts during the day.