Four back-to-back funerals; Tral observes shutdown
Tral: Tens of hundreds of mourners swarmed Nazneenpora village on Monday to participate in the funeral prayers of a local militant, Aqib Ahmad alias Moulvi, who was killed, along with a Pakistani militant, in a 15-hour-long gunfight on Sunday.
As a mark of solidarity with the deceased militants, all shops, schools and other business establishments remained closed. Traffic also remained off roads by and large.
The militant was killed close to his residence in Hafoo Nazneenpora village in an encounter that raged throughout the Saturday night. A policeman identified as Manzoor Ahmad Naik was also killed during the gunfight.
Locals from different villagers across South Kashmir had come to offer funeral prayers for Aqib. As many as four back to back funeral prayers were held for Aqib, wrapped in a Pakistani flag, in his native village.
As his rites were being carried out, the mourners also raised pro-freedom slogans.
The youth also recited elegies for Aqib and other slain militants from the area on loudspeakers. The mourners also visited Aqib’s home in Hyuna village and offered their condolences to his family.
Funeral prayers in absentia were also held for the non-local militant, Hamas, who is likely to be buried in a north Kashmir village. After massive participation of people in the funerals of Pakistani militants, the government has been burying Pakistani militants in Uri area of Baramulla district.
People from remote areas of Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam districts had walked to reach Hyuna village for the last rites of the militant.
The women showered candies on Aqib’s coffin when he was being carried to his ancestral graveyard.
Aqib, a top militant active in South Kashmir areas of Pulwama and Shopian, was a close aide of former militant commander Burhan Wani. Both Aqib and Burhan appeared in a several photographs and videos that appeared online on social media networks like Facebook and Watsapp.
After Wani was killed on July 8 last year triggering a massive uprising for six months across Kashmir, Aqib is the first militant from Tral to have been killed since.
Aqib is believed to have been accompanying Burhan in April 2015 when he was slated to meet his brother Khalid. However, the government forces, probably tipped off about the meeting, had killed Khalid while Burhan and Aqib had escaped.
A resident of Hyuna village, Aqib had memorized the entire Quran, according to his family and joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2013 after another local militant Shabir Hyuna, a top commander in Hizb ranks, was killed.
According to sources, Aqib drew inspiration from Shabir and also worked as his “over ground support” before joining militancy.
“He left home saying he was going to Bijbehara to lead the prayers in a local mosque there. Five days later, police came to our home and told us that Aqib has joined militant ranks,” Aqib’s brother, Tawseef Ahmad Bhat said.
Before joining Hizb, Aqib, according to his brother lead prayers at a local mosque, and also ran a local religious seminary.
“We do not have any remorse on his martyrdom and we are proud of his sacrifice. Initially, we did feel bad for him as he had left home all of a sudden without letting us know. He used to come home quite often though,” Tawseef added.
The only “regret”, his younger brother Suhail Ahmad said, was that Aqib did not call his family in his final hours.
“We came to know about his presence in the encounter through an audio clip which was being circulated on social networking sites only. After listening to this audio clip we realized it was him,” Suhail said.
In the audio clip, which surfaced on the social media networks, Aqib is believed to be conversing with another Hizb associate Riyaz Naikoo after the forces had surrounded the house where he was hiding.
The veracity of the clip, however, could not be verified.
—With inputs from Shafat Mir