Four local militants were Sunday killed in an encounter with government forces in Shopian district.
The force personnel launched a cordon and search operation in Daramdora area of Shopian, following information about the presence of militants there, an army official said.
He said as the forces were conducting searches, the hiding militants fired upon them. “ The security forces retaliated,” the official said, adding four militants were killed in the gun battle.
Elaborating, a police official said, a cordon was jointly launched by Army’s Rashtriya Rifles, paramilitary central reserve police force and special operations group of Jammu and Kashmir police around 3:00 am.
He said after sensing that a cordon has been launched by government forces around the village, militants who were hiding in the village rushed towards apple orchards surrounding the village, which were already encircled by the government forces.
The official added that militants hurled a grenade on a search party in a attempt to flee from the cordon and subsequently fired up on them.
“The fire was returned leading to a gunfight in which two militants were killed,” he said, adding that after the initial exchange of fire combing operation was intensified and a contact was again established in which two more militants were killed.
A police spokesman identified the slain militants as Rafi Hassan Mir, Suhail Ahmad Bhat, Showkat Ahmad Mir and Azad Ahmad Khanday.
Showkat alias Arshid son of Ghulam Mohamad Mir belongs to Chandpora Pulwama , Azad alias Molvi son of Abdul Rashid Khanday is from Bamnoo Pulwama, Suhail alias Hizaif ul Haq Mohammad Yusuf is resident of Wanpora Shopian and Rafi alias Aman ul Haq son of Ghulam Hassan was a resident of Kral Check Shopian, added a police official.
While Showkat had joined militant ranks in 2015, the other three had recently joined him. “Showkat was instrumental in recruiting Azad, Rafi and Suhail in terrorist ranks. Showkat was initially associated with Hizbul Mujahideen,” a police official said.
Besides the bodies of slain militants arms and ammunitions including 2 pistols and 2 rifles were recovered from the site of encounter.
Local residents from Daramdoora village informed that they heard the sound of gunshots at around 5:30 am.
“The firing continued for half an hour after which there was a pause and then it was heard again for more than half an hour before it stopped,” they said.
Officials said that Showkat had joined militant ranks in June of 2015 and was initially associated with Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit. He had recently switched over and joined Ansar Ghazwatul Hind.
A police spokesperson further said that Showkat was wanted by law for his complicity in a series attack on forces establishments. He said that the militant was involved in the “case FIR No. 113/2016 of police station(P/S) Rajpora pertaining to firing on a guard post at Sheikhard, case FIR No. 02/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to the lobbing of grenade on government forces, case FIR No. 20/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to firing on civilians Bashir Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad at Qasabyar in which Bashir Dar succumbed and Altaf was seriously injured, case FIR No. 21/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to civilian atrocities and case FIR No. 01/2019 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to killing of a policeman Sameer Ahmad.”
Local residents informed that Suhail and Rafi went missing from their houses in 15 June of this year and on 21 June their gun wielding photographs appeared on various social media networking sites. They were inspired by slain AGH founder, Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa. Suhail as per local residents had earned a post graduate degree in business administration and management from a Chandigarh based university.
“He had returned home one and half month ago before he went missing to joint militant ranks,” the residents said. He is survived by a brother besides parents and grandparents.
Rafi was postgraduate in arts stream and had earned a diploma from ITI besides the BED degree. He is survived by a brother and three sisters besides his parents.
Azad had joined militant ranks in April this year. He was a cleric at a local mosque and is survived by four siblings and parents.
Thousands of people turned up at the funeral prayers of slain militants in their respective villages chanting pro freedom and anti Indian slogans. Authorities snapped mobile internet in Shopian district after the encounter.