Anantnag: A brief exchange of gunfire between militants and army men, here in Kakapora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, left an army man and a civilian cab driver dead late Sunday night.
The slain civilian, Bilal Ahmad Ganaie, was a local Sumo cab driver. SSP Pulwama Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam told Kashmir Reader that the investigations so far into the incident have revealed that the militants came to the army camp in Bilal’s Sumo cab.
The exchange of fire was, as per police, triggered after militants opened indiscriminate fire at an army camp in Kakapora, after which they were chased by army men. “The militants, believed to be three to four in number, intercepted Bilal’s Sumo while he was on his way to somewhere along with his younger brother, Mehraj-ud-din,” Aslam said, adding that Mehraj was asked to disembark from the vehicle by the militants.
The militants, Aslam said, were driven by Bilal to the army’s 50 RR camp in Kakapora, where they opened fire.
“The army men, being at a position of advantage, followed the militants in their vehicle and about a kilometre from the camp site, there was intense exchange of fire between the two parties,” Aslam said.
He said it was then that an army man was injured, who later succumbed to his injuries, and Bilal was killed on the spot in the exchange of fire.
The militants managed to flee the spot, Aslam said.
A massive search operation was launched soon after the firing to locate the militants. The operation was called off at about midnight, with no success.
Bilal’s family in Narwa village has maintained that Bilal and Mehraj were travelling to their poultry farm in Dougam village. “They had to deliver an order tomorrow and they had gone to prepare for that,” Bilal’s elder brother, Gulzar Ahmad Ganaie, said.
Gulzar said that the family was unaware of what happened on the way. “We came to know through Whatsapp, first that Bilal was injured, and then that he was no more,” Gulzar said.
Mehraj is still in a state of shock. He has been hospitalised for now, the family said.
On Monday morning, amid a complete shutdown across Pulwama district, several rounds of funeral prayers were held for Bilal before he was buried at his ancestral graveyard.