Three militants were killed in a shootout at Malikpora locality in Hakura village of Anantnag district while thousands of people took part in the funeral prayers of the militants.
Gunshots were heard during the overnight cordon and search operation at Malikpora as the forces took on the holed-up militants.
The slain militants were identified as EesaFazli, a resident of Soura area of Srinagar district, Syed Owais of Guhnoo of Kokernag area Anantnag, and a foreigner, a Pakistani resident.
“The firing occurred at around 12:30 am when the cordon was launched in the area and it did not seem that there was exchange of bullets between the militants and forces as we heard few gunshots only. We came to know about the militant deaths in the morning,” said a local resident.
Police claimed that the militants were killed as they tried to break the cordon. “Pursuing credible leads of the presence of militants, the security forces started the searches in the Hakoora area of Anantnag district. While the search was going on, the hiding militants fired upon the search party. The gun fire was retaliated by the security forces ensuing an encounter. In the encounter three militants were killed,” said a police spokesman.
“It was a swift operation. We are ascertaining the identity of third militant,” Inspector General of Police Kashmir, SwayamPrakashPani told Rising Kashmir.
Police said that arms and ammunition which includes AK 47 rifles, pistols and hand grenades were recovered from the encounter site and after the incident no collateral damage has taken place.
Police said that one of the militants was involved in a recent attack on a police guard post at Soura in which one police constable was killed. In this connection, a case has been registered and the investigation “has been started under the relevant provisions of the law by the Police”, read a police statement over the incident. Among the slain militants, police said, one was behind the attack on a police guard post at Soura in which constable, Farooq Ahmad Yatoo, was killed. Yattoo was guarding the house of Hurriyat Leader FazalHaqQureshi at Bilal Colony, Soura.
The forces had earlier conducted door-to-door searches in the area after which firing occurred as the militants tried to flee from the holed-up house during which they were killed in retaliatory fire by the forces, added a police official.
Three back-to-back funerals were held for Syed Owais, from GuhnooKokernag area of Anantnag district after which he was laid to rest adjacent to his house. His first funeral was led by his father, Syed Mohammad Shafi, a retired zonal education officer, as thousands participated in his last rites at their native village while the main Kokernag-Anantnag road was blocked and sealed by the government forces at several places to prevent people from reaching at the militant’s funeral.
Owais had completed his BTech course in Electronics and Communication from Baba Ghulam Shah University last year where he had befriended EesaFazli. Fazili, a BTech student had left studies at BGBSU on August 17 and a day later his family was informed that Fazli’s picture was circulated on social media and he had joined militant ranks.
Owais joined the militant ranks in November last year after he left his home on the pretext of getting himself enrolled for Aadhar card at Tehsil office on 23 November 2017, according to a family member.
Meanwhile a complete shutdown was observed in entire Anantnag town and adjacent areas to mourn the militant killings. The mobile internet services were blocked in Anantnag as the incidents of stone pelting were reported from several areas of the district in the morning.
Intense clashes went on throughout the entire day in parts of Kokernag area in which at least 15 youth sustained pellet injuries who were treated at Sub District hospital (SDH) Kokernag.
“We received 15 people with pellet injuries throughout the day, however, these injuries were not life-threatening”, said a doctor at Sub District hospital Kokernag.
Clashes were reported from many areas of Anantnag town during which police lobbed several tear gas shells to disperse the protesting youth.
Earlier local police officials had informed the family about Fazli’s death in Hakoora gunfight around 6 am. After the gunfight authorities imposed strict restrictions in parts of Srinagar to prevent people from taking out protests and heading towards Soura.
Officials said the restrictions were imposed as a precautionary measure in downtown area of Srinagar “to maintain law and order.”
Witnesses said large contingents of police and paramilitary CRPF were deployed on all major roads in downtown while concertina wires, barricades were installed at entry points and public movement towards Soura was disallowed.
The killing triggered a spontaneous shutdown in Srinagar. Shops and business establishments remained closed in the commercial hub of LalChowk and adjoining area while public transport was also hit in the city. However, private cars plied normally.
According to local sources at around 8 a.m the boy was brought to Soura for last rites as thousands of people had already “arrived to participate in funeral prayers of Fazili despite restrictions in the area.”
The slain Srinagar militant’s father, Noor-un-NaeemFazili said on Facebook that his son’s funeral prayer was held at 3 p.m near his residence at Sharjah Ground.
Locals from various adjoining areas defied restriction to reach Soura and after Fazili was brought home he was laid to rest at a local graveyard. Thousands of people chanted pro-freedom, anti-India and anti-government slogans.
Earlier, youth defied restrictions at main chowkSoura and restored to stone pelting on the deployment of forces while in Ahmad Nagar youth attacked SSB camp with stones.
Witnesses said forces retaliated by firing tear smoke shells, stun grenades, sound shells and pellet firing to disperse the protestors.
Apprehending protests authorities also suspended high-speed mobile internet services in Srinagar and South Kashmir areas. However the service was restored late evening while schools and colleges were closed in Srinagar and class work in Kashmir University was also suspended and exams were postponed.