People march towards the encounter site to help militants escape, mobile telephony suspended
Sopore: Two militants, both hailing from Sopore town, were killed by government troops in an encounter that started Thursday midnight in Nathipora village, on the outskirts of Sopore town. Both militants were associated with the Hizbul Mujahideen.
Ajaz Ahmad Mir, 23, alias Mudasir, resident of Shalipora, Brath Kalan, in Sopore, and Basharat Ahmad Sheikh, 19, resident of Malpora in Sopore, were the two militants killed. Official sources said that a team of army and police SOG cordoned off a suspected area in Nathipora village, and as the team intensified its combing operation, the militants opened fire, triggering a gunfight.
The owner of the house in which the two local militants were killed by the team of the army’s 22 RR battalion and the SOG police team of Sopore, Mohd Maqbool Mir, told Kashmir Reader that it was at about 2am when government forces entered his house through a window.
“They had already cordoned the whole village. I was told by the Superintendent of Police Sopore to go inside my house and ask the militants to surrender. I went to my lawn and I shouted to the militants that the government forces are asking you to surrender, but they replied that they would not surrender. I left my house and spent the night in my neighbour’s house, along with my family. The forces left in the morning, after killing two militants in my single-storey house,” Mir said.
After the encounter finished, the army’s 22 RR held a press conference in which they claimed that the militants who were killed in the encounter were involved in Wednesday’sgrenade attack at Sopore in which four cops were injured.
They also claimed to have recovered 2 AK rifles and other ammunition from the slain militants.
Bodies of both the militants were handed over to their respective claimants at about 10am.
Locals complained that they were unable to offer Fajr prayers at dawn because the armed forces were everywhere in the village.
The encounter ended at about 7 in the morning.
While the encounter was going on, residents of Bomai village and adjacent areas tried to march towards the encounter site to help the militants escape. But the Sopore police and CRPF fired teargas shells at them and stopped them from advancing.
According to locals of the village, one person was hit with a bullet in his face when he was in his lawn. The injured person was identified as Mohd Ramzan Mir, 55, resident of Nathipora village. He was referred to Sopore hospital where he was given first aid. His condition is said to be stable.
Meanwhile, mobile communication service was snapped, except BSNL, in north Kashmir.
Gun salute in grand farewell
As soon as the news of the killing of two local militants reached Sopore and adjacent villages, thousands of people began making their way to Brath Kalan and Bomai to participate in their funeral prayers. Some mourners pelted the government forces with stones at a few places on their way to the villages.
The moment Basharat’s body was brought to his native village of Bomai in the morning, hundreds of cameras with flashlights began taking pictures and the crowd started shouting Aaya Aaya, Shaheed Aaya (Here comes our martyr). Basharat’s funeral prayers were held at the playground of the middle school in Bomai and he was laid to rest at the martyrs’ graveyard in the village, where already more than 30 graves of martyrs were present. After attending his funeral, people in large processions started walking towards Brath Kalan village where the funeral prayers of Ajaz were to take place.
When Ajaz’s body arrived, dozens of women showered flowers on his body and henna was applied to his hair.
The woman sang, “Tera bhai, mera bhai, Ajaz bhai Ajaz bhai (my brother, your brother, Ajaz everyone’s brother),” “Shaheed keh Chanva? La Ilaha Illallah, Guns peth keh laikhan? La Ilaha Illallah (What martyrs drink? The Kalma, What they write on the gun? The Kalma).”
The crowds kept swelling. They came in tippers, cars, trucks and motorcycles to where funeral prayers were offered. Women and children jostled with men for a glimpse of the militant’s body.
Although the majority of the people were fasting, it didn’t tell upon their fervour. They raised pro-freedom and pro-militant slogans. Hundreds of people recorded the funeral on their mobile phones.
Militants appeared in the funeral procession and offered gun salutes to their associates by firing many bullets in the air. After that, they disappeared.
Scores of men and women wept bitterly as the body was carried towards its final resting place.
The funeral prayers were held at the playground of the government senior secondary school in Brath Kalan, which was packed to the brim with mourners. Ajaz was buried in the local martyrs’ graveyard of Brath Kalan.