April 1 again a date with death for Shopian militants

April 1 again a date with death for Shopian militants
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LeT’s ‘top strategist’ among the slain; families blame govt forces of pushing their sons into militancy

SHOPIAN: On Monday people in Shopian were speculating if a shutdown will be observed in the district on the death anniversary of 12 militants and four civilians who were killed on this day at the twin villages of Dragad-Sugan and Kachdoora, but little did they know that three militants from their district will be killed on the same date this year.
Among the three Shopian militants slain today in Lassipora in neighbouring Pulwama district was the district commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) for Shopian, Zaffar Ahmad Paul.
The militants were laid to rest at their native village in Nolu, Sedow, Hillow villages in district Shopian and in Gadbug-Lassipora in district Pulwama. Witnesses said that thousands of people thronged to the villages and took part in the funerals. They said that the gathered people raised pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans.
Locals informed that besides slogans, Pakistani flags were also raised during the funerals of the militants.
Zaffar Ahmad Pal, son of Muhammad Ahsan Pal, resident of Molu village of Shopian, was active since 17 September 2017 and took charge as LeT district commander after the killing of Muhammad Umar Malik. Malik was killed in an encounter at Killora village last year along with four associates of Al-Badr militant outfit.
Family sources said that Zaffar was studying a laboratory technician’s course in a Pulwama college before joining militant ranks. They said that a month before he took up arms, he was arrested by the army. They added that Zaffar has left behind his parents, a married sister, and a married brother. Both his father and brother are engaged in horticulture and are considered a prosperous family.
Locals from the area said that Zaffar was the top strategist of LeT in south Kashmir after most of its leadership were killed last year in encounters in south and central Kashmir. They also said that he never made any public appearance nor did he appear at funerals of militants.
Aqib Ahmad Kumar, son of Bashir Ahmad Kumar, according to family sources was active since eight months ago. They said that he took up arms soon after the Laddi encounter in which a group of militants managed to escape last year.
Villagers from Hillow said that Bashir Ahmad Kumar, Aqib’s father, runs a tea stall at Shopian and owns a kanal of land. Aqib is survived by two brothers, both of whom are studying. His brother was recently released from police detention, villagers said.
Eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader that the face of Aqib was beyond recognition as it was severely damaged by bullets. Villagers said his face had been covered up with bandage by doctors.
Many people besides the family members of Aqib addressed the gathering of mourners at his funeral in Hillow. On this day last year, Sameer Ahmad, a militant in Kachdoora, was brought home slain with his body charred by flames.
Muhammad Shafi, son of Ghulam Muhammad, was laid to rest at Sedow village. According to family members, he was once detained by government forces in some militancy related case. Villagers said that the slain has left behind three brothers, a sister, and his parents. They said he had studied till Class 9 and was helping his family meet the ends by working as a manual labourer.
Towseef Ahmad Itoo, son of Abdul Aziz, resident of Gadbug-Lassipora was laid to rest at the village graveyard. He was a carpenter before joining militancy. Towseef was married and had a two-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.
Family members blamed government forces of forcing their son into militancy. They said he was subjected to repeated torture and detention by the forces.
Towseef has left behind his wife, two children, a sister and a brother.
Villagers from Lassipora said that all four militants were killed outside a hideout when they came out of it. They said that a cordon was laid there by Sunday 10pm but gun shots were heard around 4am in the pre-dawn hours.