HM militant, army man killed in Pulwama gunfight

A Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militant and an army man were killed and two troopers injured in a gunfight at Ratnipora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.

A police official said Army’s 50 Rashtriya Rifles, 180 and 182 bns of CRPF and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police launched a cordon and search operation in Ratnipora village of Pulwama in the wee hours today after receiving inputs about presence of militants there.

He said as searches were intensified, the search party came under fire from militants, who were hiding in a residential house, at around 3:35 am.
“The fire was returned by troops, triggering an encounter,” the official said.
He said in the ensuing gunfight, a Hizb militant Hilal Ahmad Rather son of Ghulam Mohammad Rather of Begumbagh, Kakapora was killed.

The official said three army men sustained injuries in the gunfight and were evacuated to 92 base hospital in Srinagar for treatment.
“One of the critically injured trooper, Baljeet Singh later succumbed to injuries in the hospital while two other injured army men are undergoing treatment,” he said.
Local residents said the residential house in which militants were suspected to be hiding suffered severe damage after it was set on fire by troops.
“The militant was killed around 400 meters away from the burnt house,” they said.
As the encounter started, clashes erupted near the site of encounter as youth came out on roads and pelted stones on forces to disrupt the operation.
The youth were chased away by forces personnel, who fired pellets and teargas smoke to disperse them.
Many youth sustained pellet injuries and were hospitalised.
“About 7 youth with pellet injuries were received at SDH Pampore and DH Pulwama,” the officials of health department said.
They said two pellet injured youth were referred to SMHS Srinagar, Srinagar for specialised treatment.
A police official said Hilal was said to be a part of the module, which helped jailed LeT militant commander, Naveed Jatt escape from police custody from SMHS hospital, Srinagar on February 6, 2018.
A day later police raided Lelhara, Narbal Begumbagh and Gundibagh villages of south Kashmir after getting a clue from CCTV footage and arrested four members of the module.‎ However, Hilal escaped the police raid and joined militant ranks on same day. His gun wielding photograph went viral then.
He was said to be main person, who helped Naveed to escape police custody from SMHS hospital, Srinagar where he was to undergo a medical check up.
He was accused by police for shooting at two police men before handing over pistol to handcuffed Naveed and guiding him to a motorbike which drove him to Kakapora area of Pulwama.
Naveed was killed in a gunfight with forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district in November last year.
Hilal, who is survived by two siblings, had dropped out from graduation in first year to become a militant.
Meanwhile, thousands of people from different areas turned up in Begumbagh to participate in funeral prayers of deceased militant amidst chanting of pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
The funeral prayers were held in an apple orchid. Multiple funerals were held for the deceased militant.
The militant was laid to rest in the local graveyard in the evening.
A spontaneous shutdown was observed in Pulwama today against the militant killing while authorities snapped mobile internet services.
After the gunfight, train service in Valley was suspended.