ANANTNAG: Clashes between protesters and government forces erupted in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Monday amid a complete shutdown following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Sheikh Dawood.
Amid restrictions imposed by the government forces, a huge number of people took part in the funeral prayers of the slain militant who died in a brief encounter near Bichroo village late on Sunday night.
Dawood was among the top-ranking militants of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, active in the area since 2014. He was part of Burhan Muzaffar Wani’s group, who has emerged as the motivator for most of youngsters joining militant ranks in Kashmir over the past three years.
Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps remained shut in all the towns of the district including district headquarter Kulgam besides Qaimoh, Khudwani, Bugam and Yaripora villages. Traffic was generally off the roads. The local authorities had imposed Section 144 banning assembly of four persons in the area but despite the restrictions, defiant people gathered in thousands to offer funeral prayers of the slain militant. Huge number of people from different areas of the district began to march towards Buchroo—Sheikh’s native village. They were raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The body of slain militant was taken in a huge procession for burial in his ancestral graveyard. Funeral prayers were offered to him multiple times when fresh groups of people kept on arriving.
Eyewitnesses said that shortly after the burial took place, angry youngsters began attacking the government forces with stones at Qaimoh village. The youth assembled at the Main Chowk of the Qaimoh village and attacked the police and paramilitary forces. The government forces, witnesses said, lobbed tear-smoke shells to disperse the stone throwing youth. The clashes continued for several hours. At least five youngsters have been wounded in the clashes.
One of the youth, identified as Abid Ahmad Mir, who had received multiple pellet injuries was taken to district hospital Anantnag where doctors referred him to SMHS Srinagar in view of the severity of his injuries.
“He had been hit by pellets in his eye and face and referred to SMHS after being given first aid,” a doctor posted at district hospital Anantnag told Kashmir Reader.
Sheikh Dawood was shot dead by government forces late on Sunday near Buchroo village shortly after a joint party of Indian Army, Special Operations Group of State Police and para-militaries laid cordon in the area. The militants attempted to break the cordon but were targeted by the forces. While Sheikh Dawood was hit several times and died instantly on the spot, his associate was reported to have fled from the area. Officials said that one army personnel received splinter injuries in the encounter. The siege in the area was lifted late in the night and body of slain militant was handed over to his relatives.
Youth of the area, witnesses said, after hearing gunshots held protests and resorted to stone pelting at the forces, apparently to help the militants escape.
Police said Dawood was active in the area for the last three years and figured in the “Most Wanted” list of militants circulated by the police in south Kashmir.
Sheikh’s relatives and neighbours remembered him as one of the most humble and religious boys in the area.
“He (Sheikh) was humblest of boys in the locality. He was deeply religious since his childhood and would often speak about righteousness and Islamic revolution,” said his neighbour who wished not to be identified.