Sopore shuts to mourn death of 3 Jaish militants

Mushtaq Ahmed
Baramulla: A complete shutdown was observed Tuesday in Sopore town of this north Kashmir district to mourn the killing of three Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants on Monday.
All shops, business establishments, financial institutions and petrol pumps remained closed while thin transport plied on the otherwise busy roads of the township, eyewitnesses said.
The shutdown was observed to mourn the killing of three JeM militants, including the outfit’s divisional commander, in a fierce encounter with Army on Monday.
According to police, Abu Hassan, JeM’s commander, and his two associates Muzamil alias Farooq and Rizwan, all Pakistan nationals, were killed in the gunfight that erupted in Muqdam Mohalla in Dooru area of the outskirts of Sopore. Two soldiers had also sustained injuries in the gunfight that lasted for several hours, the police said.
“Today’s shutdown was observed to pay tribute to the Jaish militants who laid down their lives for our freedom. Suspending our business activities was the only way to express our gratitude to the martyrs,” said Naseer Ahmad, a trader.
He said the strike was spontaneous even as no militant or political group had called for it. Due to the shutdown, he said, the busy marketplaces of the town wore a deserted look.
A complete shutdown was also observed in Dooru area, where the militants were killed. Early morning, hundreds of people visited Muqdam Mohalla where the militants were shot dead.
Later in the day, groups of youth took to streets at Main Chowk, Bus Adda, Iqbal Market, Batpora and other areas and staged pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations.
Chanting pro-freedom, pro-militant and anti-India slogans, the protesters pelted rocks and stones on the CRPF troopers and police that were deployed in advance. The forces used batons to disperse the stone throwing youth. However, the youth regrouped and continued attacking the force. The pitched battles continue till late evening. However, no one was reported to be hurt.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain Jaish militants in Panzla area of Rafiabad.
Reports said hundreds of people, especially the youth came out of their homes when news spread in the area that police handed the bodies of the slain militants to the local Auqaf Committee for burial. Amidst slogans, the slain were laid to rest at the local graveyard.