Among the slain, MBA and MA students who had joined militant ranks 3 days ago, and a darsgah teacher who led prayers at the village mosque
SHOPIAN: Four militants said to be part of the Zakir Musa founded militant outfit, Ansar Gazwat-ul Hind (AGH), were killed in a government forces’ operation at Damradora orchards in Shopian district on Sunday morning.
Police sources said that a joint team of army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles, Jammu and Kashmir Police, and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) based on “intelligence inputs about the presence of militants” in the area. They said that searches were being carried out in orchards where, from a suspected spot, hiding militants opened fire.
Police in a statement said that four militants were killed in the gunfight that followed, adding that arms and ammunition was recovered from the site.
Locals of Daramdora village said that the encounter took place in an open space (orchard). They said that a large number of gunshots were heard in the morning at about 6am. The government forces withdrew from the village at about noon, they said.
Two of the militants among the slain had joined the Ansar’s fighting ranks just three days ago.
Suhail Ahmad, son of Muhammad Yousuf Bhat, resident of Batmaran Wanpora village in Shopian, according to family sources was missing from home since 10 days ago. They said that he was pursuing an MBA course at a Chandigarh college and had returned home a month ago. Villagers said on the 21st of this month, Suhail’s photographs brandishing AK 47 rifles appeared on social media.
Suhail has left behind in his family his parents, grandparents, and a brother. His father works as a government vehicle driver.
Showkat Ahmad Mir, son of Ghulam Muhammad Mir, resident of Chandpora Rajpora village of district Pulwama, was active since 2015. Family sources said that he was first affiliated with Hizb ul-Mujahideen but at the beginning of this year he joined AGH, “due to unknown reasons”.
The third slain militant was identified as Rafi Hassan Mir, son of Ghulam Hassan Mir, resident of Kralchak village of Shopian, was like Suhail active since the 21st of this month. Family sources said that he had studied for an ITI diploma, a BEd degree, and an MA before joining militancy. He has left behind three sisters, one brother, and parents.
Azad Ahmad Khanday, son of Abdul Rasheed Khanday, was a teacher at a local darasgah in his village, Bamnoo, where he led the five daily prayers in the local mosque. He has left behind two brothers, two sisters, and parents. Family sources said that he took up arms in the month of April this year.
The slain militants were laid to rest amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans at their respective villages in the neighbouring districts of Shopian and Pulwama. Women and children were seen wailing and beating their chests at the funerals.
Internet services were barred in district Shopian soon after the breakout of the gunfight in the morning.
Police in a statement said that the bodies of the militants were retrieved from the site of the encounter. The statement said that among the four slain militants, Showkat had a long history of crime records since 2015, and he was initially part of proscribed outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Showkat, as per police records, was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. Several crime cases were registered against him including Case FIR No. 113/2016 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to firing on a guard post at Sheikhard, Case FIR No. 02/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to the lobbing of grenade on security forces, Case FIR No. 20/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to firing on civilians Bashir Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad at Qasabyar in which Bashir Dar succumbed and Altaf was seriously injured, Case FIR No. 21/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to civilian atrocities and Case FIR No. 01/2019 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to killing of a policeman Sameer Ahmad,” said the police statement.
It added, “Showkat Mir was instrumental in the recruitment of Azad Ahmad, Rafi Hassan and Suhail Ahmad who had recently joined the militant fold.”