Bijbehara: Two local militants of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen were killed Tuesday afternoon in a gunfight with government forces, here in Bijbehara area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, police said.
The gunfight was the second in less than 24 hours in south Kashmir. On Monday evening. militants managed to give government forces the slip after engaging them in a gunfight in Shopian district.
The militants slain in today’s gunfight have been identified as Danish Bhat alias Kokab Duree and Basharat Nabi of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Vijay Kumar said.
“The two of them were involved in the killing of a territorial army man in Bijbehara and two civilians in Jablipora area of Anantnag district, last year,” Kumar said. The Territorial Army (TA) personnel, Saleem Pandit, was killed in broad daylight in the main market of Bijbehara in April last year.
The two civilians were killed on May 29, more than a month after the TA man was shot dead.
Today’s gunfight took place in Poshkreeri area of Srigufwara in Bijbehara, on the Bijbehara-Pahalgam route via Apple Valley, where an operation was launched by forces following inputs regarding the presence of militants in the area.
“Soon after the operation was launched, contact was established with the militants hiding in the area and they were asked to lay down their arms,” a senior police official from the area said.
He said that the militants did not pay heed and opened indiscriminate fire instead. “The fire was retaliated and in the ensuing gunfight both the militants were killed,” the official said, adding that the bodies along with arms, ammunition, and some incriminating material have been retrieved from the site of the gunfight.
The official said that the bodies will be sent for a quiet burial in north Kashmir, after completion of medico-legal formalities.
The authorities have refused to hand over bodies of slain militants to their families, citing Covid protocol, since April 2020. The practice of burying militants at undisclosed locations in presence of a few family members has continued ever since. This has prevented people from holding massive funeral prayers for slain militants, wherein tens of thousands of people would normally participate.
Today’s gunfight was the second in the month of September. In August, six militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba were killed in three different gunfights in Kashmir valley. The gunfights have been fewer and far between in August compared to the rest of the year.
More than 130 militants have been killed this year in different gunfights, only 32 of them Pakistani nationals. “The rest of them were locals,” a police official told Kashmir Reader.
Militants, on the other hand, have been targeting Kashmiri Pandits, non-locals, policemen on leave, and politically affiliated locals.