Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in a gunfight with forces in Panzgam village of Awantipora area in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday.
A police official said a cordon and search operation was launched by a joint contingent of army’s Rashtriya Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police at Bunpora locality of Panzgam village at around 1:30 am on Saturday after receiving inputs about presence of three militants there.
He said as search party was approaching a suspected spot, militants hiding there fired on the search party in order to break the cordon and escape.
“The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter in which three Hizb militants were killed,” he said.
The official said two militants were killed in courtyard of a house and another was killed inside a bathroom.
The deceased militants were identified as Showkat Ahmad Dar son of Ghulam Rasool Dar of Panzgam village of Pulwama, Muzaffar Ahmad Sheikh son of Khazir Mohammed Sheikh of Tahab village of Pulwama and Irfan Ahmad War son of Farooq Ahmad War of Wadoora Payeen of Sopore.
Showkat had joined militant ranks on September 15, 2016. He graduated in Arts stream before joining militant ranks and was category ‘A’ militant in police records.
Muzaffar joined militant ranks on April 23, 2018 and had schooling up to 10th standard while Irfan joined militancy in November 2018. He was running a vehicle repairing shop before joining militant ranks and is survived by two kids and a wife.
A police spokesman said Showkat was part of a militant group involved in abduction and killing of Army man Aurangzeb in 2018.
“He was also involved in the killing of policeman Aqib Ahmad Wagay last year,” he said.
Multiple funerals were held for two of the three slain militants in their respective villages in Pulwama in which thousands of people participated amidst chanting of pro-freedom and anti Indian slogans.
The youth at Panzgam area took to roads after the encounter broke out and attempted to march towards the encounter site. They clashed with the force personnel and pelted stones on them. The force personnel retaliated by firing tear gas canisters.
Authorities snapped mobile internet service in Awantipora area after the eruption of gunfight.
Meanwhile, Anantnag town observed spontaneous shutdown after rumours about the trapping of a local militant in a cordon and search operation in Dahruna village of Kokernag.
As the rumour spread that a militant Tariq Ahmed Khan of main town Anantnag’s Lal Chowk was trapped in the cordon, hundreds converged at his house.
However, authorities imposed restrictions in the town and laid barbed wires at Ashajipora bridge, Sadder police station Anantnag and also suspended mobile internet.
Youth took to streets in several areas and clashed with the forces.
An official said the militants and forces did exchange gunfire briefly and searches were also launched in Dehruna village.
However, the operation was later called off after militants managed to escape from the area.
Locals alleged that army barged inside several homes in Nai Basti area of Anantnag town and damaged several parked cars and broke window panes of dozens of houses besides thrashing many locals. (Additional inputs from Shafat Mir)