Anantnag: On a cold Tuesday in January 2015, Abid Khan, a district commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, had gone to visit his family in Handoora village of Tral, when government forces laid a siege in the area.
In a fierce gunfight that lasted for about half an hour, Abid Khan and Sheeraz Ahmad Dar of the Hizb were killed, but not before they had gunned down an army Colonel named MN Roy and a member of the police’s counterinsurgent wing, Constable Sanjiv Singh.
The miseries of Abid Khan’s family were not yet over, though. They lost another son, and a nephew, both killed by government forces on a Tuesday.
The Jaish-e-Muhammad militant, Showkat Ahmad Khan, killed in a gunfight late Tuesday evening along with Usman Hyder, JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar’s nephew, was the third from the Khan family to have become a militant and to have been killed by government forces.
It all started in 2012 when Abid Khan, son of a police head constable, Jalal-u-din Khan, picked up arms and joined the then Hizb commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
Abid remained an active militant for more than 3 years, rising to the rank of district commander.
In 2014, while Abid was alive, his paternal first cousin, Ishfaq Ahmad Khan, son of Ghulam Nabi Khan, started working as an Over Ground Worker of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen – as per police sources.
Ishfaq was arrested in March 2014 from Pampore area of Pulwama district, after he tried to snatch a rifle from an SOG policeman in the area.
“He was jailed for about a year,” a police official confirmed. “But he did not stop working with the militants even after his release.”
Ishfaq formally joined militants in early 2017. He joined the Jaish-e-Muhammad.
Ishfaq was killed, along with three other Jaish militants, on Tuesday, April 24, earlier this year. It was a 10-hour-long gunfight in a forest area in Laam village in Tral.
An army soldier and a policeman were also killed during the gunfight.
Two months after Ishfaq was killed, his younger brother Showkat went missing one day in July. Days later, his pictures in army fatigues, an assault rifle in his hands, went viral on social media.
Showkat remained an active militant for less than three months, before he was killed on yet another Tuesday.
Hours after carrying out an attack on army’s 42 RR camp, Showkat and Hyder were cornered in a residential house in Chankitaar village of Tral, less than a kilometer from the camp they attacked in Mandoora.
The gunfight between them and government forces continued for a few hours before the forces set ablaze the house Showkat and Hyder were hiding in.
Their bodies were charred beyond recognition. One of the charred bodies, after identification by the family, was handed over to the Khan family and the other one was taken to north Kashmir for burial.
Early Wednesday morning, thousands turned up at Handoora village and attended multiple rounds of funeral prayers held for Showkat.
Militants also appeared at the funeral and offered multiple rounds of gun salute to their fallen associate.