Brief gunfight at hideout in village orchard; clashes leave four youths seriously injured by pellets; thousands attend militants’ funerals
SHOPIAN: Shahjahan Mir, 25, and Abid Ahmad Wagay, 23, residents of Shopian villages four kilometres apart, were killed together outside their hideout situated in an orchard area in Gahand village in Shopian district, after government forces surrounded them in the wee hours of Saturday and shot them dead in a brief gunfight. The slain militants were affiliated with Jaish-e-Muhammad and were involved in killing of three policemen at Batgund village in Shopian, killing of four policemen and looting their weapons at Arhama last year, in the killing of a policewoman at Vehil, and attack on a police station in which one policeman was killed, besides killing of civilians and attacks on security forces’ establishments, police said.
In the morning, soon after news of the killing of local militants spread in the area, scores of youths hit the streets and began hurling stones at government forces. In the clashes that followed, government forces fired pellets and injured at least 20 persons, four of them seriously. Two policemen were also injured during the clashes and were treated at Shopian district hospital.
According to doctors at Shopian district hospital, 20 persons with pellet injuries were brought to the hospital on Saturday. They said that four among the injured were referred to SMHS Hospital in Srinagar for advanced treatment while the rest 16 were treated and later discharged from the hospital.
Thousands of people took part in the funeral prayers of both the militants at their ancestral villages of Amshipora and Rawalpora. Witnesses said people raised pro-freedom and anti-India slogans during the funeral prayers while women were crying and wailing.
Witnesses said that four militants appeared during the funeral prayers and offered gun salute to their slain associates.
Police sources said that a cordon and search operation (CASO) was launched in Gahand village by 34 RR of army, Jammu and Kashmir Police, and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on “intelligence inputs” about the presence of militants in the village. They said that the search party was fired upon, triggering an encounter in which two militants belonging to JeM were killed.
Shahjahan Mir, son of Abdul Hameed Mir, resident of Amshipora village, according to police sources was a top militant and recruiter in the area. They said that he was among the few known faces of the JeM in south Kashmir.
A local source said that Mir joined militant ranks towards the end of 2016.
Mir has left behind in his family two sisters, a brother, and his parents, family sources said.
Abid Ahmad Wagay, son of Abdul Hameed Wagay, 23 was laid to rest at the village graveyard of Rawalpora where thousands attended his funeral prayers.
Wagay, according to villagers, was a big fan of jailed leader Sarjan Barkati and Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi. Villagers called Wagay a philanthropist as he was often helping the poor and needy. Family sources said that Wagay joined militant ranks on September 4, 2018, and was running a shop at his village besides having vast apple orchards and fruit business. They said that he had studied till Class 12.
Family sources said that the slain had left behind two brothers and his mother. His father had passed away years ago.
A complete shutdown was observed in Shopian district on Saturday while internet services were suspended in the entire district.
Villagers said that the bodies of both the militants were damaged as the government forces seemed to have used “some chemical”.