One army soldier killed, two others injured in gunfight; group of militants escapes under cover of darkness
Anantnag: A Hizbul Mujahideen militant who police said helped Lashkar’s Naveed Jutt escape from police custody and shot dead two policemen at SMHS Hospital was killed on Tuesday in an early morning gunfight that also claimed the life of an army soldier, here in Ratnipora area of Pulwama district.
Two more army men were injured during the gunfight which lasted for about 5 hours. The injured army men are being treated at the Badami Bagh Base hospital in Srinagar.
The slain militant has been identified as Hilal Ahmad Rather, son of Ghulam Muhammad Rather, resident of Begum Bagh area in Pulwama district.
Police said that apart from several militancy-related activities, Hilal had shot dead two policemen at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar to help Pakistani militant Naveed Jutt escape from police custody.
“He (Hilal) was the one who fired in SMHS hospital leaving two policemen dead. Jutt escaped during the firing,” a top police officer told Kashmir Reader.
Jutt alias Abu Hunzallah escaped on February 6 last year and was killed in November in a gunfight with government forces in Budgam district.
Hilal, as per police records, went absconding after Jutt’s escape and joined active militant ranks. He was a first-year student of graduation at Government Degree College (GDC) Pulwama before joining Hizb.
The gunfight today started at about 3:00 AM. A senior police officer from Pulwama district said that the area was being cordoned off following inputs regarding presence of militants, when militants holed up in a residential house opened indiscriminate fire.
“It was in the initial fire that three army men sustained injuries. One of them succumbed later and two are undergoing treatment,” the officer said.
He said that the fire by the militants was retaliated, triggering a fierce gunfight in which Hilal was killed.
“The operation was declared over by around 10:30 AM,” the officer said.
A police source confirmed to Kashmir Reader that there were more militants present in the area who managed to sneak out in the darkness.
Later in the morning, as the news of the gunfight spread, hundreds of people tried to reach the site of the gunfight. The people hurled stones at the government forces, who retaliated with tear smoke shelling and pellet firing.
Some people sustained minor injuries during the clashes and were treated locally.
After proper identification process and completion of medico-legal formalities, Hilal’s body was handed over to his family.
Soon after, thousands reached Begum Bagh village of Pulwama district, despite restrictions and curtailment of mobile internet services across the district.
Several rounds of funeral prayers were held for Hilal following which he was buried at the local martyrs’ graveyard.
A complete, spontaneous shutdown was observed across Pulwama district as the news of the militant’s killing spread in the area.