Ganderbal: The funeral of MTech student-turned-militant Rahil Rashid Sheikh at his native village Nunner in Ganderbal district on Sunday was attended by thousands of people, including women, children and the elderly.
Almost everyone from Nunner village and its adjoining areas participated in the funeral prayers of Rahil who was killed in a brief gunfight with government forces in Shopian’s Imam Sahib area in south Kashmir on Saturday.
Sources said that as news about the killing of Rahil spread, thousands of people travelled to his village to participate in his funeral prayers. Though the authorities had blocked all the main and link roads leading to the village, thousands of people walked through fields and interior roads to turn up at his funeral.
Rahil’s body was wrapped in a black flag and was laid to rest amid pro-freedom and pro-Zakir Mosa sloganeering at his ancestral graveyard in Nunner.
At Rahil’s residence, everyone was in tears. Hundreds of people visited the bereaved family to express their condolences. His mother and sisters, however, couldn’t be consoled by anyone and kept wailing aloud.
Post his funeral prayer, clashes erupted between youth and forces at Serch area. Youths hurled stones on government forces while the forces retaliated by firing tear smoke shells. The clashes continued for some time, reports said.
Rahil, according to his family, had completed BTech from Desh Bakth University in Chandigarh and was studying for an MTech in the same university. Family members said Rahil’s decision to join militant ranks came as a surprise to them and to the entire village.
Local residents said that Rahil was a brilliant student and had secured distinction in his school exams.
The slain militant is survived by his parents, two sisters, and a brother. His father is a government employee in the handicrafts department.
His friends, who wished not to be quoted by name, said he was the first militant from their village. A friend said that Rahil reportedly joined militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen on April 3 this month and he saw his gun-wielding photos on social media after news came of his death.
With the killing of Rahil, Ganderbal lost two well-educated militants since last year, one of them assistant professor at Kashmir University, Dr Mohammad Rafi.
“I have for the first time witnessed such a grand funeral. The entire area is mourning. Everybody is in tears,” said an elderly woman, wiping her tears.
Meanwhile, the authorities suspended internet services in the district while people observed a shutdown. All business establishments were closed in the district and there was no traffic on the roads. Heavy deployment of government forces was made at sensitive points to thwart any untoward incident.
Officials said that in order to prevent violence, police laid barricades at Lar, Wussan, Manigam crossing, Wayil Bridge, Capargund, Guzarbal, and other routes leading to Nunner village, which lies on the Manigam-Nunner-Ganderbal road.
Police officials said the day passed peacefully.