Drones used to keep watch; people carry banners, shout slogans in praise of militants; army says informers playing ‘vital role’
SHOPIAN: The three militants killed in a gunfight in Gattipora village of Shopian on Monday evening were buried in their native villages in the district on Tuesday. Zahid Ahmad Mir was laid to rest at his native village of Ganowpora where at least four rounds of funeral prayers were offered for him. Those who were present at the funeral said that about seven-thousand mourners, including women and children, gathered to give a heroic farewell to the slain militant.
Family members of Zahid told Kashmir Reader that he joined militant ranks in July 2015. “On July 18, 2015, he went to college but didn’t come back. On July 22 we received a call from police that Zahid had joined militant ranks,” a close relative of Zahid said.
Ganowpora villagers said that Zahid was a brilliant student who earned a distinction in his Class 12 board exams.
“He was a brilliant student and a down-to-earth guy. He was studying in the second year of BA in Government Degree College Shopian when he left home and joined rebel ranks,” a friend of Zahid said.
The funeral of Zahid was held at the same place where a civilian student’s funeral was recently held. The village graveyard is surrounded by dense apple and walnut orchards. The graveyard was decorated with hoardings and banners featuring active and slain militants of Kashmir.
Irfan Ahmad Ganie was laid to rest at his ancestral village of Heff in the local martyrs’ graveyard. Locals said that Irfan was the eleventh rebel buried in the martyrs’ graveyard and that four more militants from the village are currently active.
Four rounds of funeral prayers were attended by about ten-thousand mourners for Irfan.
Irfan’s family members said he was active since 15 months and was affiliated with LeT.
A friend of Irfan said that before joining militant ranks, Irfan was studying a masters course through the IGNOU open university.
Irfan has left behind his mother, father, two elder sisters, and brother. He belonged to a well-off family.
Residents of Heff told Kashmir Reader that two drone cameras were used by government forces to keep watch over the funeral of Irfan.
Asif Ahmad Paul was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard at Kathalan, which is a predominantly tribal area. His family members said that he joined Hizb this year.
Four rounds of funeral prayers were offered for Asif by about four-thousand mourners. The coffin was decorated with flowers and women were seen crying, beating their breasts to mourn the 19-year-old Asif. Family members said he had studied till the 12th standard. He has left behind his mother, father, two brothers and two sisters.
According to police, Zahid and Asif were affiliated with Hizb ul Mujahideen and Irfan with Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Commandant of army’s 44 RR, DS Negi, told reporters on Tuesday, “We got a specific input through Jammu and Kashmir Police about the presence of militants, and first contact with militants was established at 4:30pm of Monday. Our priority was to rescue the villagers and around 11pm all three militants were neutralised and the operation was called off.”
He added that Zahid was involved in motivating young boys to join militant ranks and he also threatened people. “He escaped from several cordons but this time the information was clear,” Negi said.
According to locals of Gattipora village, all the three militants were killed in open fields but despite that, government forces set ablaze two cowsheds and damaged private property.
Gattipora village is situated in a hilly, forested area, some 13 kilometres from district headquarters of Shopian.
In the past two months, six militants from Shopian district have been killed in three separate encounters. Hizb operational chief Mehmood Gaznavi was also killed in Shopian.
On the sidelines of the press briefing, Negi told Kashmir Reader that informers were playing a vital role in neutralising the militants. He also said that due to the counter-insurgency operations, the rate of militant recruitment has diminished. “People want to live a normal life,” he said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Shopian, SA Dinkar, told Kashmir Reader that two AK 47 rifles and one INSAS rifle was recovered from the possession of the slain militants. “Zahid Ahmad was an A+ category militant, Irfan Ahmad was B category, while Asif was a C category militant,” he said.