Anantnag: In a post-midnight gunfight, government forces killed three militants, two of whom were engineering graduates and the third an unidentified ‘foreign’ militant, in Hakoora village of Anantnag district. Hakoora is located between Anantnag and Kokernag, some 10 kilometers from the district headquarters.
According to police reports, there were specific inputs regarding presence of militants in Badasgam locality of Hakoora, following which a joint team of government forces reached the area.
“As a cordon was being laid, the militants, who were hiding in a house, tried to make their escape using indiscriminate fire,” a senior police officer told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the fire was retaliated and the militants were killed after a brief gunfight. The militants, sources said, were killed in a paddy field.
Police identified the militants as Eisa Fazili, son of Naeem Fazili, resident of Soura in Srinagar, and Syed Owais Shah, son of Muhammad Shafi, resident of Gohnoo village in Vailoo, Kokernag.
The third militant, police said, was yet to be identified. “He might be a Pakistani national,” a senior police official from Anantnag district told Kashmir Reader.
Local sources in Hakoora said that they heard intense firing after midnight, but no one dared to venture outside.
“There was a lull for about an hour, and then there was even fiercer firing before the guns fell silent. We got to know about the killings in the wee hours of the morning,” sources said.
Police have maintained that weapons including AK-47 rifles, pistols and hand grenades were recovered from the site of the encounter.
Soon as the news of the killings spread, a spontaneous shutdown was observed across Anantnag district, with reports of stone-throwing in some parts of Anantnag town.
The day, however, passed off peacefully in most parts of the district.
Police handed over the bodies of the two local militants to their families after medico-legal formalities.
The authorities slowed down mobile internet speeds and imposed restrictions on all roads leading to Vailoo in Kokernag, the native village of Owais.
Despite the restrictions, thousands of people reached the village and attended at least two rounds of funeral prayers before government forces barged into the village and dispersed the mourners. Locals said that forces used tear smoke shells to disperse the mourners, who in return hurled stones. Several people, including some policemen, sustained minor injuries during the clashes. The injured civilians were treated locally.
A senior police officer in the area said several of his men, including him, sustained minor injuries during the clashes.
“I am sure there must have been some minor injuries on the other side as well,” he said. “But the good thing was that the situation was contained without any major casualty, and we were able to disperse the protestors.”
Eisa and Owais were both engineering graduates from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU) in Rajouri district. As per sources, Eisa was junior to Owais at the university.
Both of them were sons of teachers. Eisa’s father teaches at Higher Secondary School, while Owais’s father is a retired government school headmaster.
Eisa joined militant ranks in August last year, followed by Owais in November.
“They were previously associated with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen,” Kashmir Inspector General of Police (IGP) SP Pani said.
Rumours were in wide circulation regarding the identity of the third militant. Pani, however, said that the militant was yet to be identified. “Rumours circulate, but the truth is he is yet to be identified and we are trying to ascertain his identity,” Pani told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, authorities imposed restrictions under Section 144 CrPC in areas under eight police stations of Srinagar — Soura, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, MR Gunj, Maisuma, and Kralkhud — and ordered closure of schools and other educational institutions in Srinagar and south Kashmir for two days on Monday.
Clashes between groups of youths and government forces broke out in several areas of the city, police said. Stone-pelting was reported from Soura, Anchar, Old Barzulla, Lal Chowk and other areas.
Kashmir University suspended classes for the day and postponed examinations as well. The Islamic University of Science and Technology also postponed examinations scheduled on Monday.
Mobile internet speeds were reduced across the valley. Police also issued an advisory for citizens, seeking their cooperation.