Hizb commander Riyaz Naikoo comes to funeral, says Pakistan flag ‘our flag’
Mohammad Suhail/Bilal Habib
Anantnag: Government forces on Sunday killed in a brief encounter two Hizbul Mujahideen militants here in Tahab area of Pulwama district. Intense clashes erupted in Tahab and many other places in Pulwama, leaving at least five people injured, one of them with a bullet in his chest and another with pellets in his eyes, after the encounter ended with the killing of the two local militants.
The slain militants have been identified as Shariq Sheikh (alias Haris Bhai), son of Ali Muhammad of Gulzarpora village in Pulwama district, and Shabir Ahmad Mir (alias Showket), son of Mohammad Ahsan and resident of Mahend village near Bijbehara in Anantnag district.
Both of them were category-C militants as per police records. Sheikh joined the Hizb in January this year and Mir in May.
According to police reports there were specific inputs regarding the presence of militants in Bongam locality of Tahab.
“A cordon and search operation was launched this morning. While searches were being carried out, the militants sneaked out from the house they were hiding in and moved into nearby orchards,” Pulwama Superintendent of Police Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the militants tried to break the cordon further by firing at the men in uniform. “But they were gunned down in the process,” he said.
“There were only two militants hiding in the house and both were neutralised after the brief gunfight,” Aslam said.
The bodies of the militants were handed over to their families after medico-legal formalities by the police.
Thousands attended the funeral of the slain militants in Gulzarpora and Mahend areas.
In Gulzarpora, Hizb commander Riyaz Naikoo made an appearance at the funeral of Sheikh and apart from offering gun salutes to his fallen comrade, he also addressed the gathering.
Terming the Pakistani flag as “our own flag”, Naikoo said that a deliberate attempt is being made to defame the freedom struggle of Kashmiris by linking it to Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
In his address, Naikoo said that the “agencies” will sometimes say that there is Jihad in Kashmir, sometimes they will say that your resistance leaders are corrupt, and other occasions they will say that Pakistan is your enemy, “but all these things are nothing but a lie.”
“We must refrain ourselves from wrongdoing and learn the Quran and Islamic books and pray to Almighty for the freedom of the valley,” he said.
He added that “oppressors want to break our unity through propaganda. Whether we are Deobandis, Barelvi or Ahl-hadith, we are one.”
He chanted slogans in favour of Syed Ali Geelani and Syed Salahudin from the stage.
Before leaving the funeral site, he fired three gunshots in the air. People were seen kissing and hugging him.
He said he was not scheduled to come here but came because of the prevailing confusion among the people. “We know who is raising the flags of ISIS. They are those who want to confuse people by blaming the Hurriyat,” he said.
He said these people wanted to defame the movement at the international level.
Soon after the encounter concluded, intense clashes broke out in Tahab and some other parts of Pulwama. Many people were injured during the clashes, five of them taken to hospitals.
“We received five injured. Two were shifted to SMHS in Srinagar, one with pellets in his eyes and another with a bullet wound in his chest,” Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Pulwama, Dr Talat Jabeen, told Kashmir Reader.
She said that both of them were stable and under treatment at SMHS.
Clashes continued in the area for the rest of the day.