One was visiting home for the first time since he left, the other had become a militant just before his Nikah ceremony in March
SHOPIAN: Two militants belonging to Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH) were killed by government forces in a pre-dawn encounter at Awneera village in Shopian district on Tuesday. Police identified the slain militants as Sayar Ahmad Bhat of Yaripora Kulgam and Shakir Ahmad Wagay of Awneera Shopian.
The police statement said that both of them “were inspired by IS (Islamic State) ideology.” “They were wanted by law for their complicity in terror crimes including attack on security establishments,” the police statement said. “According to police records, they were part of groups involved in planning & executing terror attacks in the area and many other civilian atrocities. Shakir Wagay according to police records was involved in Case FIR No 25/2019 pertaining to the killing of civilian Irfan Hameed Sheikh of Zainapora.”
The encounter began after government forces launched a cordon and search operation based on “intelligence inputs about the presence of militants in Awneera village,” police said. The search party, according to police, was fired upon by the hiding militants, triggering an encounter. Bodies of the two militants were retrieved from the encounter site. Police in an official handout said that arms and ammunition was recovered from the possession of the slain militants, but sources told Kashmir Reader that both the militants had only pistols in their possession.
The 1 Rashtriya Rifles unit of the army, the special operation group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police, and central reserve police force (CRPF) had together launched the cordon and search operation. Locals said that Shakir Wagay had come home for the first time since he left to join militant ranks. They said that both the militants were killed outside Shakir’s house. A residential house belonging to Shakir’s uncle was also partially damaged during the firefight, locals said.
Villagers of Awneera said that in the middle of the night at about 12 AM, government forces were spotted in the village. The first gunshots were heard at about 2:30 AM. The firing continued till 4 AM, they said. Shakir Wagay according to family sources was active since December 31, 2018, after leaving his education midway. He has left behind six brothers, two sisters, and parents.
Locals said he belonged to a well-off family. Sayar Ahmad Bhat, son of Sanaullah Bhat, resident of Munchew village in Kulgam, according to his family went missing in the 2nd week of March this year. Sayar was arrested once over stone-pelting charges before he joined militant ranks and was a close friend of slain Hizb commander Hilal Ahmad Wani, they said.
Belonging to a middle-class family, Sayar according to his friends had completed his bachelor’s degree before joining militant ranks. He was known in the area for his volleyball skills, his friends said, adding that he went missing a few days before his Nikah (marriage) ceremony was scheduled to be held. Sayar is survived by two brothers, two sisters, and parents. Thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain militants.
Eyewitnesses said that both the militants were laid to rest in their native villages after multiple funeral prayers attended by thousands of people amid massive pro-freedom and pro-militant slogans. A complete shutdown was observed in most parts of Kulgam and Shopian districts against the militants’ killings, eyewitnesses added. In the wake of the gunfight, internet services were snapped in both Kulgam and Shopian districts by the authorities.