The Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) chief alongwith three of his associates was killed in an encounter with forces in Srigufwara, Bijbehara area of Anantnag district on Friday. A policeman and a civilian were also killed while house owner’s wife was injured.
A police official said police, CRPF and army launched a combing and search operation in Nowshera Khiram village in Srigufwara at around 5.30 am after receiving information about presence of four militants there.
As the combing operation was going on, militants hiding in a two-storey house opened fire on the forces.
The fire was returned by the troops and in the initial exchange of fire, the house owner and his wife received bullet injuries while trying to flee from the spot.
Both the house owner Mohammad Yousuf Rather and his wife were evacuated to a nearby hospital. Rather later succumbed to injuries in the hospital.
The gunfight between militants and forces continued for at least six hours during which all the four holed-up militants and a policeman Ashiq Hussain were killed.
Three houses and a cowshed were damaged during the gunfight after the house where from militants were firing on forces caught fire.
The deceased militants were identified as Dawood Ahmad Sofi of HMT Srinagar, Majid Manzoor Dar of Talangam Pulwama, Aadil Rehman Bhat and Mohammad Ashraf Itoo, both residents of Srigufwara area of Anantnag district.
Police said the deceased militants owed their allegiance to ISJK and Dawood was head of the group.
According to police official, Dawood was initially affiliated with TuM outfit before switching allegiance to ISJK.
“The social media profiling and inputs indicate that they were inspired by ISIS module. This militant group was active on social media and mostly attacked the policemen on duty at different places,” he said.
The official further said Dawood, 33, was involved in number of stone pelting cases prior to joining the militant outfit.
“He was involved in an attack which resulted in death of ASI Ghulam Mohammad and Head Constable Naseer Ahmad at Bagh–Ali-Mardan Khan in Zadibal and also in killing of policeman and snatching his rifle at Tengpora Batamaloo besides other attacks,” he said.
After the gunfight erupted, locals attempted to march towards the encounter site to help militants escape from the area. The youth pelted stones on the police, CRPF and army men, who retaliated by firing bullets, pellets and tear gas shells to disperse the protestors.
Over 20 people sustained injuries in the forces action and were rushed to Public Health Centre Srigufwara, Sub District Hospital Bijbehara where from some injured were referred to Srinagar hospitals for specialised treatment.
Authorities suspended mobile internet services in Srinagar, Anantnag and other parts of south Kashmir as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.
Thousands of people from Mustafa Abad, Umar Abad, HMT and adjoining areas assembled near Zainakoot and participated in the funeral prayers of Dawood amidst chanting of pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
The youth in the HMT area fought pitched battles with police throughout the day after news spread that Dawood was trapped in gunfight in Anantnag.
Thousands of people also offered funeral prayers of Majid at Talangam Pulwama in the evening.