Govt Forces Kill Another Scholar Militant, 3rd This Year

SRINAGAR — Sabzar Ahmad Sofi on Wednesday became third highly educated militant to have been killed this year in an encounter with government forces. 

Sabzar, an MSC in Botany, along with his Hizb-ul-Mujahideen associate Asif Ahmad Shergojiri were killed in the encounter in Nowgam area of the Srinagar on Wednesday morning, police said.

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Reports said that the gunfight broke out around 2 AM in the area following a search operation.

Two militants have been killed and six forces’ personnel wounded in the gunfight, said DIG central Kashmir VK Birdi told reporters.

Massive clashes broke out in the area with youth taking to streets to disrupt the operation.

Sazbar had joined the militant ranks in the aftermath of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. The 33-year old Sofi also held MSC and B.Ed degrees. Prior to him Manan Wani, a PhD scholar, and Mohammad Rafi Bhat, assistant professor of sociology at University of Kashmir, were killed in similar fashion by Indian armed forces. 

While Manan was killed on October 11, Mohammad Rafi Bhat was killed along with five associates on May 4. Rafi’s name figured in the list of those selected as faculty members in the Kashmir University after his death.  

A police spokesman said during a search operation, militants fired upon the search party, which was retaliated, leading to an encounter. “In the ensuing encounter militants were neutralized.”

The spokesman said that Sabzar son of Bashir Ahmad Sofi of Naina Sangam Anantnag had joined militant ranks in 2016 and was involved in several attacks on security establishments in district Anantnag.

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“He was involved in many (militancy-related) cases including FIR No. 22/2018 under section 13 ULAP Act at Police Station Bijbehara.

“Pertinently, Sabzar Ahmad was involved in killing of one civilian lady namely Biba wife of Mohammad Yousuf Matto resident of Naina Batapora in the evening of 28-10-2016,” the spokesman claimed. 

Asif Ahmad Shergojiri alias Khubaib son of Ali Mohammad Shergojiri resident of Khiram Anantnag had joined the militant ranks in January this year and was actively involved in attacks on security establishments. “He was involved in many cases and the prominent cases include FIR No. 04/2018 under section 13 ULAP Act registered at Police Station Srigufwara and FIR No. 15/2018 under section 15/2018 under section 451, 392,506 RPC, 7/25 Arms Act registered at Police Station Srigufwara.”

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Meanwhile thousands of people attended the funeral of both the militants. Soon after the news broke about the militants killings, the authorities snapped internet in Srinagar while Kashmir University and CUK suspended class work. The government also closed all schools and colleges in the Srinagar.   

Reports said that thousands of mourners from his village and adjoining areas rushed to Naina to participate in the last rites of slain militant Sabzar Ahmed. Reports added that a group of at least six armed militants appeared at funeral procession who fired dozens of rounds in air to pay tribute to the departed slain militant.

An eyewitness told news agency CNS that the group of militants was led by Hizb top commander Zeenat-ul-Islam. He added that mourners mostly youth amid pro-freedom and pro-Zeenat-ul-Islam slogans jostled to touch militants. Militants according to eyewitness fired few shots to disperse the crowd. “A couple of people felt unconscious and were shifted to nearby hospital,” he added.

One report said three youth identified as Adil Ahmad of Sangam, Aijaz Dar of charsoo, Awantipora and Jameel Ahmad Wani of Madina Pulwama received injuries in their legs. 

It has become a norm in Kashmir for militants to appear in the funerals of their fallen comrades. The militants not only give gun salute but also address mourners.

Eyewitnesses said that the slain militant was laid to rest amid pro-freedom slogans. Reports from Khiram-Sirham-native village of another slain militant Asif Ahmed Shergujri, people in large numbers participated in his funeral procession.

Reports said that many protesters were injured in clashes with the government forces in Sangam area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district shortly after the news about the killing of Sabzar Ahmed spread in the area.

The youth hurled stones on the forces deployed in the area to prevent protests. The forces, according to witnesses, resorted to tear gas shelling and pellet firing, leaving three protesters injured.

The injured hit by pellets in their eyes were shifted to sub-district hospital Bijbehara for treatment. A top health official confirmed that the three youth hit by pellets were brought to the facility. “They are being treated here, but will be referred to SMHS hospital for specialised treatment,” he said.

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Sources said a youth Nissar Ahmad Dar of Deva colony was injured seriously after received a teargas shell at Janglat Mandi Anantnag. He has been referred to Srinagar from district hospital Anatnag in a critical condition.

Who was Sabzar Ahmed Sofi

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Sabzar was one of the increasing number of youth who are abandoning their promising careers and joining militancy as situation continues to deteriorate following military crackdown post Burhan Wani period.

After the killing of Burhan Wani, Kashmir witnesses unprecedented violent protest. Hundreds were blinded and 100 killed in police and military action. In such circumstances, 31-year old Sabzar Ahmad Sofi left his home and never returned.

Sabzaar from Naina, Sangam in Anantnag, had completed his MSC from Burkhatulla University in 2013-14 and M.Phil from Jivagee University Gwalior before pursuing Phd in 2016. He also qualified NET, JRF and started coaching for IAS.

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The family bid him goodbye hoping he would fly to New Delhi. For next three months his father could not establish any contact with him owing to communication blockade in the Valley. However in October 2016 the family was shocked to know that Sabzar, instead of flying to Delhi to appear in viva test for PhD, has joined the militancy.

“We had never expected that he will leave us without any information. We tried to contact him but all in vain,” said his father adding that Sabzar was an upright and honest who would always help the students of the locality and encourage them to pursue higher studies.           

Sabzar started his own coaching centre (Acent) in his native place for some time where he imparted education to poor students of the area. Instead of pursuing PhD he had joined militancy and it was his own decision, family sources say.

A missing report filed by family still stands registered at Bijbehara Police Station. According to family, it was a police official who visited their house and informed that Sabzar has joined militancy. “We didn’t believe first, but we lost the hope when few days later, a group of army soldiers knocked at our doors and showed us a video in which Sabzar could be seen along with a group of militants brandishing a gun in his hand.”

Sabzar is survived by his parents, two brothers and a sister. His brothers and sister are also well educated.

One of his relatives said that he failed to understand how Sabzar picked up the gun. “He was so shy and innocent who hardly talked to anyone. He never discussed Kashmir situation with anyone. As far as I know him, Sabzar wanted to achieve something in his life. He wanted to do something for his family and society,” the relative said.

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Sabzar like Burhan Wani and Manan Wani had no FIR against him at any police station. An FIR was lodged against Manan Wani only after he joined militant ranks for writing an article which police termed as ‘inciting’ having a potential to disturb peace in the society. (With inputs from CNS)  

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