Thousands attend funerals of local militants, clashes in several areas
Shopian: The encounter that began Saturday evening at Barbug village in Shopian’s Imam Sahib area ended with the killing of two militants and the arrest of a third.
Police said that acting on specific information of presence of militants in Barbug village, army’s 44 RR and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Imam Sahib police cordoned the village. Police said that militants fired on the security forces and this resulted in a gunfight.
Tariq Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Barbug, and Altaf Ahmad Rather of Awneera were killed in the 17-hour gunfight. A third militant, identified as Adil Hussain Dar, resident of Chitipora in Shopian, was apprehended by the government forces after they blasted the house from within which the militants were fighting.
At least three IED blasts were used to raze the one-storey house. A drone camera was also used to locate the militant who was hiding inside it.
Police sources said that Tariq Ahmad was killed in the initial stage of shootout on Saturday evening, when militants tried to break the cordon. Altaf was killed at around 10:30 Sunday morning. Adil surrendered before the security forces, a police official said.
Thousands of mourners, women among them, gave a heroic farewell to Tariq Ahmad, with at least five rounds of funeral prayers offered for him at his native village of Barbug. The funeral ground for Tariq was decorated with banners of active and slain militants. At least three militants appeared during the funeral and fired several rounds of gun salute.
Pro-freedom, anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans reverberated during the funeral. Dozens of Pakistan flags were waved during the funeral prayers. Interestingly, no slogans were raised in favour of estranged Hizbul commander Zakir Musa, who has formed his own outfit to fight not for the cause of Kashmir but for the cause of Islam.
According to family sources, Tariq joined militant ranks last year, during the summer uprising, in September.
A local villager said that before joining militant ranks, Tariq worked as a painter. “He was young and pious. He never quarrelled with anyone in the village. Tariq was never part of controversies,” he said.
Villagers told Kashmir Reader that Tariq was the youngest of six brothers. “At least eight-thousand mourners attended the five rounds of funeral prayers for slain Tariq,” eyewitnesses said.
Meanwhile, all business establishments and shops remained closed in the district. Clashes were also reported from several parts of Shopian. At Barbug, protesters tried to torch an army vehicle, but the army managed to save it.
Altaf Rather was also laid to rest amid pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans at his native village of Awneera in Shopian.
At least four rounds of funeral prayers were offered for the slain by thousands of mourners.
Local from Awneera were heartbroken to see the faceless body of slain Altaf. They said that his face had been fully disfigured after the government forces blasted the house.
Altaf was the son of Muhammad Maqbool Rather, a prosperous landlord in Awneera.
Family sources said that Altaf joined militant ranks on May 27 this year. “Before he joined militants, he had completed his graduation and was doing a fruit and cardboard-box business for the past four years,” family sources said.
They added that Altaf has left behind a younger brother, sister, and elderly parents.
One of the friends of Altaf said that two years ago he went to India to study a masters course in some university. “But later he left it to attend to his business,” he said.
A police statement on the Shopian encounter said that arms and ammunition were recovered from the encounter site.
“Both the killed terrorists were involved in the attack on SPO Khurshed Ahmad Ganaie at Bazar Imam Shahab in which case FIR number 138/17 under section 307 RPC, 7/27 IA Act, 16 UL stands registered. Tariq Ahmad was also involved in the attack on security forces convoy at Chakoora Shopian, case FIR number 194/17 under section 307 RPC, 7/27 IA, 16 UL Act stands registered. He was involved in attack on SI Gowhar Ahmad Malla at Barbugh Haripora in which case FIR number 230/17 under section 307, 326 RPC, 7/27IA Act 16 UL Act already stands registered. He was also involved in bank robbery at Turq Wangam in which a case FIR number 6/17 under section 451, 392, 307, 34 RPC, 16, 38 UL Act, 7/27 IA Act already stands registered,” the police stated.
“Altaf Ahmad was involved in case FIR number 50/2017 under section 7/27 IA Act, 16 UL Act,” police stated.