One among the militants lays down arms, arrested
Shopian: Seven-day-old and four-day-old militants were among three militants killed in an overnight encounter at Kenigam village of Shopian. Another militant who had joined ranks hours earlier, a brother to seven sisters, surrendered before the government forces.
All the three slain militants as well as the one who surrendered belonged to Reban-Khojpora village of Shopian.
The arrested militant had also appealed to his associates to surrender. A video was circulated on social media in which the militant was seen holding a loudspeaker and asking his associates to surrender.
The associates refused and were killed soon after.
A cowshed sustained significant damage during the firefight, locals said.
On Wednesday afternoon, army soldiers had fired shots in the air in Kenigam village after detecting suspicious movement of some persons, who were asked to stop but who instead fled from the spot. Government forces later launched a cordon and search operation in the village.
A police source said that the militants were spotted late at night and they were repeatedly told to lay down arms, but despite repeated requests and attempts to make them surrender, only one of them came out.
The police source said that three other militants were killed in a brief firefight after they threw a grenade at the government forces.
Locals said that the militants had taken shelter in a cowshed. They said that the three militants who were later slain had allowed one among them to surrender as he had seven sisters to look after.
One of the slain militants was identified as Danish Ahmad Mir, who according to family members left home on 29 April 2021 and when the family tried to search for him, his mobile phone came switched off. Later his family circulated a video on social media and it was also carried by news outlets, appealing to their son to return home. A close relative told Kashmir Reader that Danish was a Class 9 student at a Zainpora school and he had memorised 20 paras of the Quran. Two days after the first video circulated by his family, they again appealed to their son to return, but this time Danish uploaded a photo on social media brandishing a gun and announcing his joining of militancy.
The second militant killed in the encounter was a five-day-old militant, Zahid Bashir, 21. Bashir according to family members was summoned by government forces at Zainpora on May 1. They said that he left home for answering the summons but he didn’t go to the forces’ establishment.
A relative of Bashir told Kashmir Reader that upon searching for him, family members found his phone to be switched off. Because his maternal home was in Zainpora, the family thought that he may have gone there. Later they found a photo on social media in which their son had announced joining militancy.
Another relative of Bashir told Kashmir Reader that Bashir was last year booked under the Public Safety Act and thereafter he spent nine months in custody. “He was tortured and came home with multiple ailments due to the torture,” the relative said.
The third militant killed in the encounter, Muhammad Umar, was the “most senior” among the group. According to family members, he was active as a militant since five months ago. He had studied till Class 10 and was helping his family by working as a carpenter before he took up arms.
Family members said that two brothers of Umar were arrested by government forces last week. One of them has now been released after the killing of his brother, family members said.
The militant who surrendered before the forces was identified as Towseef Yousuf, also a resident of Reban-Khojpora village. He according to locals left home on Wednesday morning and got trapped in the force’s cordon in the afternoon. He has seven sisters, mother, father, and a brother.
According to police sources, 23 militants have been killed this year in Shopian district, more than half the militants killed this year in Kashmir.
Mobile internet services in the district were barred on Wednesday night and had not been restored by the time this report was filed on Thursday evening.