Gunfight at dawn, funerals well attended despite internet shutdown, bodies draped in Pak flag
Anantnag: Two militants of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen were killed in a brief exchange of gunfire with government forces, in the wee hours of Monday morning, here in Khodweni area of Kulgam district.
An Over Ground Worker (OGW), Arif Sofi, was apprehended by the forces from the site of the encounter.
The slain militants have been identified as Sayar Ahmad Wani of Wanpora, Qaimoh, and Dawood Ilahi Khan of Howura Mishpora — in Kulgam district.
Wani, a category-B militant, was part of Hizb since September last year. Khan, a category-C militant in police records, had joined only in May this year.
Dawood Khan was released last year after serving four years in central jail Srinagar for being allegedly involved in the murder of a sarpanch in Howoora village.
Director General of Police (DGP) Shesh Paul Vaid posted on Twitter at about 7am to announce the killing of the militants.
“Two terrorists of HM killed in Khudweni, Kulgam and one arrested, recovered two weapons. Well done boys!” Vaid wrote on his Twitter handle.
According to local police officials, the two militants and the OGW had taken shelter in a local private school building (Scholars School), of which the police received a tip-off.
“The area was cordoned off at about 2:30am, soon after inputs were received,” a senior police official from the area told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the militants, sensing they were trapped, tried to flee the spot while the OGW stayed back.
“He tried to hide in the building, while the militants opened fire in trying to flee,” the official said, adding that the militants were gunned down in brief retaliatory fire while the OGW was apprehended.
He said that two weapons were recovered from near the bodies of the slain militants.
By about 5:30am the bodies of the militants were handed over to their respective families, following the completion of medico-legal formalities.
Local sources told Kashmir Reader that the slain Dawood had come home to meet his mother late Sunday evening, and police may have been on his trail.
Dawood’s mother, Ateeqa Bano, suffered a brain hemorrhage soon after he left home Sunday evening. She was rushed to Anantnag district hospital and then to SMHS hospital early Monday morning.
She remains under treatment at SMHS.
Though internet services were snapped soon after the encounter and remained suspended throughout the day, thousands of people thronged the Wanpora and Howoora Mishpora villages to attend the funeral prayers of the slain militants.
As per local sources, people started to pour into the villages by about 8am, following which multiple rounds of funeral prayers were held for the militants before they were laid to rest in their ancestral graveyards.
Both the bodies were draped in the Pakistan flag, while dozens of people carried Pakistan flags as they raised pro-Pakistan, pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Sources said that Dawood’s brother himself draped his brother’s body in the Pakistan flag, before funeral prayers were held.
A couple of youths who tried to raise slogans praising the erstwhile Hizb commander Zakir Musa, were reprimanded by locals and asked to shut up.
A complete shutdown was observed in Kulgam district and parts of Anantnag district to mourn the slain militants.
Anantnag town, though, returned to normal business after early morning clashes between local youths and government forces.
Train services were suspended on Srinagar-Banihal track for the day.