Valley tense, blockades imposed on all routes to Tral, schools and colleges closed
Anantnag: Top militant and chief of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH) Zakir Rasheed Bhat alias Zakir Musa was killed Thursday evening in a brief gunfight with government forces, here in Dadsara area of Tral in south Kashmir.
An associate of Musa, identified as Burhan Koka, was also killed in the gunfight.
Following the killing, authorities in Kashmir snapped mobile internet services, laid curbs on all roads leading to Tral in Pulwama district, announced closure of educational institutions across Kashmir on Friday, and will impose restrictions in most parts of the valley Friday morning.
Musa’s killing is being hailed as a huge victory in security circles. He was on top of the “most wanted list” for quite a while now. Musa has been an active militant since July 2013.
He left his engineering degree at a Punjab college midway and came back home to join the then Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
After Burhan’s killing in July 2016, Musa was elevated to the command of the outfit. In 2017, however, after he called for killing some pro-freedom leaders, he fell out with the Hizb and defected from the outfit with a handful of militants.
Ever since, he had been elusive. Not much was known about his movements apart from his occasional audio messages wherein he pledged allegiance with the global terror group Al-Qaeda.
He formed AGH with some other militants and at one point in time the strength of the group had gone up to more than 10. But a recent gunfight left six of his associates dead in Tral area.
Today, in the evening, government forces cordoned off a locality in Dadsara area of Tral following inputs regarding Musa’s presence in a particular house.
“The area was sealed and efforts were made to make him lay down arms. But the two of them chose to open fire and the fire was duly retaliated. He was killed along with his associate in a brief gunfight,” a police official confirmed, on condition of anonymity.
As the news of Musa being trapped in the gunfight spread, hundreds of youth from different villages in Tral tried to march towards the site of the gunfight. They were, however, dispersed by government forces who kept the cordon intact.
Protest demonstrations were reported from many parts across south Kashmir late in the evening. Hundreds of people were trying to march towards Tral as this report was being filed but they were meeting stiff blockade of all routes by the government forces deployed.
Also, at many places across south Kashmir, people used mosque loudspeakers to play Taranas (freedom songs). Reports of massive protests against the killing also reached from Kashmir University campus in Hazratbal Srinagar.
“No one has eaten anything after the Iftaar. Everyone is on the roads and is raising pro-Musa slogans,” a source in Kashmir University said.