Six militants of Hizbul Mujahedeen and Laskhar-e-Toiba including three district commanders and a Territorial Army man were killed while another Army man was injured in a gunfight at Batagund village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district Sunday morning. Meanwhile, a teenage boy was killed in subsequent clashes near the gunfight site and as many as 67 others were injured.
Police said joint forces of Army’s Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF and Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) at Batagund village of Kapran area in Shopian Saturday night after receiving specific inputs about the presence of some militants there.
“As the searches were going on, a search party was fired at by the militants, which was retaliated, resulting in a gunfight,” a Police official said.
He said in the initial exchange, an Army man of 34 Rashtriya Rifles sustained injuries and was evacuated to the hospital where he is said to be stable.
The Police official said that a Territorial Army man identified as Nazir Ahmad, who was currently deputed with 34 Rashtriya Rifles, was wounded in the gunfight and later on succumbed.
Nazir was a resident of Ashmuji Kulgam.
He said six militants were killed in the ensuing gunfight.
“Their bodies were retrieved from the site of gunfight and five bodies were handed over to the heirs after performing medico-legal formalities,” he said. “The killed militants were identified as Umar Majid Ganje, son of Abdul Majid Ganai of Shuch, Kulgam; Waseem Ahmad Wagay, son of Abdul Hamid Wagay of Amshipura, Shopian; Mustaq Ahmad Mir, son of Gulam Hassan Mir of Chakcholan, Shopian; Abbas Ahmad Bhat, son of Abdul Zubar Bhat of Mantribug, Shopian; Khalid Farooq Malik, son of Farooq Ahmad Malik of Baghander, Alyalpora, and an unidentified militant who appears to be a foreigner.”
Police said Ganie, Bhatt, Wagay, and Malik were associated with the Hizb while Mir was affiliated with LeT.
Ganie was operating as HM’s district commander for Kulgam, Abass as HM’s district commander for Shopian and Mir as LeT’s district commander for Shopian.
Ganai’s photograph was recently circulated on social media showing his presence near Ghanta Ghar at Lal Chowk.
The HM had challenged government forces to stop them from organising a core committee meet in Srinagar on 21st November 2018 and the photograph was released a couple of days ago to validate the claim.
However, the veracity of the photograph was doubted by Police as photo- shopped.
Police blame the group for a series of attacks on the government forces and said they were involved in civilian killings including throat slitting of Huzaif Ashraf Kutaay.
Kutaay, a resident of Manzgam village of Kulgam, was decapitated after being abducted a couple of weeks ago from Saidipora village of Shopian, where he was running a bakery.
Militants had released the video of his throat slitting on social media and warned to behead informers in a similar fashion.
Police also claimed to have received huge quantity of arms and ammunition including rifles from the site of gunfight.
The house in which militants were hiding suffered severe damages in the gunfight.
Locals said, in the morning youth rushed toward the gunfight site at Batagund and started pelting stones at the government forces to disrupt the anti-militant operation.
They said the government forces retaliated with firing live ammunition, pellets, sound and smoke shells to repel the stone-pelting youth.
Locals said many youth were injured with pellets and some with bullets.
Health authorities informed that as many as 67 injured were received at different hospitals in Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag.
They said around 16 injured youth including a minor girl were reported at district hospital Kulgam.
“Seven had firearm injuries and nine pellet injuries,” they said adding that a youth, Numan Ashraf Bhat, son of Muhammad Ashraf Bhat was dead on arrival with fire arm injury.
Numan was a resident of Boulso, Kulgam.
Three bullet and three pellet injured were shifted to Srinagar for specialised treatment from district hospital Kulgam.
The referred included a five-year-old girl.
The health authorities said 36 injured, two with firearm injuries and 34 pellet injuries, were received at District Hospital Shopian.
“Two with bullet and four with pellet injuries were shifted to Srinagar for further treatment,” they said. “Fifteen others were received at PHC Vehil of which eight were discharged after treatment and seven pellet injured were referred to Srinagar. One injured was also reported at District Hospital Anantnag.”
Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain civilian and slain militant commander Ummar Majid Ganie at Boulso and Such villages of Kulgam, raising pro-freedom and anti -India slogans.
Thousands also turned up at the funeral of slain militants at their respective villages in Shopian.
Locals informed that the government forces resorted to aerial firing at Amshipora, the native village of slian militant, Waseem Wagay, yards away from the spot where the funeral of slain militant was held.
The militant is scheduled to be buried on Monday.
At Mantribugh village after multiple funerals, the slain militant, Abbas Ahmad Bhat, was buried in the village graveyard.
Four rounds of funeral prayers were held for the slain militant, Khalid Farooq at Alyalpora who was later buried in the village graveyard.
Similarly, multiple funerals were held for the slain militant, Mushtaq Ahmad Mir at Chackcholan who was buried later.