A PhD scholar-turned-militant Manan Wani and his associate were killed in a gunfight with forces at Shatgund village of Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Thursday.
Sources said at around 2:30 am police, army and CRPF men launched a joint cordon and search operation at Shatgund village after receiving intelligence inputs about presence of militants in the area.
“While searches were being conducted, militants fired on the forces. The fire was returned by the troops, triggering an encounter,” they said.
The intermittent firing, according to police officials, continued till 9 am and the firing stopped for brief time following which search operation was again started by troops.
The militants again fired on the troops, who retaliated.
In the ensuing fierce gunfight, which continued till afternoon, two Hizb militants were killed.
The deceased militants were identified as Manan Bashir Wani son of Bashir Ahmed Wani of Tikipora, Sogam in Kupwara and Ashiq Hussain Zargar son of Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Zargar of Tulwari, Langate.
Manan was pursuing PhD applied Geology at Aligarh Muslim University before joining Hizb in January this year.
A police spokesman said forces, while following the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), evacuated the civilians to safety and gave militants chance to surrender.
“The efforts failed to make them surrender. The incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the encounter site,” he said.
After the gunfight started, clashes broke out between youth and forces near the encounter site.
The youth pelted stones on forces, who responded by firing tear smoke shells.
Over a dozen youth were injured during the clashes. One of the injured had sustained bullet injury.
The clashes also spread to Handwara and Kupwara towns.
The clashes also broke out in parts of downtown Srinagar and south Kashmir.
The bodies of militants were handed over to their family for last rites.
Manan’s body was kept at a local playground, where people in large numbers paid homage to him.
As soon his body reached his native village, large number of people thronged there amidst chanting of pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
A local resident said Manan’s funeral prayer was held at 7 pm and thousands of people from various areas of Lolab participated in his Nimaz-e-Jinaza.
However, media persons were not allowed to cover the funeral.
“We were stopped by police at Lolab gateway and not allowed to proceed beyond the point,” one of the media men said.
Reports said large number of people also participated in the funeral of Zargar at Tulwari.
Meanwhile, authorities suspended mobile internet service in Kupwara district and closed the educational institutions in the area as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.
All schools and colleges in Kupwara district except Machil, Keran and Tangdhar were closed.
The educational institutions were also closed Bandipora, Pattan and Baramulla.
Meanwhile, Kashmir University (KU) has decided to suspend the class work at the main campuses and all satellite campuses on Friday.
“This is for the information of all the concerned that due to the prevailing conditions in the valley, the class work for October 12 in main campus and satellite campuses shall remain suspended,” reads a notice issued by deputy registrar, academic affairs of the varsity.