Kakapora: An overnight gunfight between government forces and militants concluded in the wee hours of Thursday morning with the killing of three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, here in Kakapora area of Pulwama district.
A police statement identified the slain militants as Majid Mir, son of Abdul Hameed of Kakapora, Shakir Ahmad Gasjoo, son of Bashir Ahmad of Kakapora, and Irshad Ahmad Dar, son of Muhammad Sultan of Aghanjipora in Awantipora.
The gunfight had started late Wednesday evening in Bank Mohalla locality of New Colony area in Kakapora.
The gunfight followed a cordon and search operation by a joint team of army’s 50 RR, CRPF’s 182 and 183 Bn, and Police’s Special Operations Group (SOG). A Special Investigations Team (SIT) in Srinagar had provided information about presence of militants in Kakapora.
“During searches in the area, a house where militants were holed up was zeroed in on,” a senior police officer told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the militants resorted to indiscriminate firing as soon as their hiding place came under a firm cordon of the forces.
“The fire was retaliated, triggering an encounter that continued through the best part of the night,” the police officer told Kashmir Reader.
Local sources told Kashmir Reader that the militants kept firing at the government forces till well past mid-night, after which the house they were in was set ablaze by troops using petrol and gunpowder. “After that their guns fell silent,” a local source said.
At about 3:00am Thursday morning, three bodies were retrieved from the debris at the encounter site.
The bodies, sources told Kashmir Reader, were charred beyond recognition.
“None of them could be recognised and it was hard to tell the bodies apart,” an eyewitness told Kashmir Reader.
Pulwama SP Chowdhary Aslam said that police used their intelligence inputs on the trapped militants to tell the bodies apart, on basis of their physical characteristics.
“Moreover, we have taken samples for DNA testing of the bodies,” the SP said.
Police have accused Majid and Shakir of being involved in several civilian killings, including the killing of PDP leader Advocate Abdul Gani.
Following medico-legal formalities, the bodies were handed over to the families.
A joint funeral prayer was held at about 8am for Majid and Shakir in the premises of the local higher secondary school.
The funeral prayers were held early due to the horrid condition of the bodies.
“People come to see the faces of the militants but there was nothing to show here. So we decided to hold an early funeral and a quick burial,” a village elderly told Kashmir Reader.
Hundreds attended the multiple funerals held for the slain, before they were laid to rest in their respective ancestral graveyards amid pro-freedom and anti-India sloganeering.
A separate funeral for Irshad was held at his village Aghanjipora in Awantipora area. Hundreds attended his funeral as well.
Clashes erupted across Pulwama district following the burials and continued for the rest of the day.