SRINAGAR Five militants and two army soldiers were killed in two separate gunfights in Pulwama and Shopian district of south Kashmir on Thursday. Two civilians were also killed in the process sparking protests and clashes.
Three militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a soldier and a civilian were killed and three persons including two army men were injured in gunfight in village Dalipora area of Pulwama district early on Thursday.
According to police, army backed by police and paramilitary forces launched a cordon and search operation at Dalipora in the morning following ‘credible inputs’ about the presence of militants there.
As the government forces were evacuating civilians from the neighbourhood area around the target house, the spokesman said that the hiding militates fired indiscriminately.
In the process one soldier Sepoy Sandeep and one civilian Rayees Ahmad Dar lost their lives, the spokesman said.
After that, he said, the government forces retaliated in which three militants were killed in the ensuing encounter and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
They were identified as Naseer Pandith of Kareemabad Pulwama, Umar Mir of Shopian and from the incriminating material recovered from the site of encounter, one militant has been identified as a Pakistani namely Khalid.
According to the police records, the killed militants were affiliated with proscribed outfit JeM. They were wanted by law for their complicity in a series of terror crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. Several cases were registered against them.
As per police records, the spokesman said, Naseer Pandith had a long history of militancy records before joining militant organization and several crime cases were registered against him for planning and executing attacks in the area after joining proscribed outfit JeM. He was also involved in the killing of a policeman Mohammad Yaqoob Shah of Pulwama in 2018 on the eve of Eid. He was also involved in some weapon snatching incidents reported from the area besides several cases were registered against him for his criminal activities including case FIR No 30/15 & 277/14 under NDPS Act and case FIR No 25/16 pertaining to forgery.
Similarly, the spokesman said, Khalid who was operating as commander of the outfit and was involved in several attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities in the area.
Regarding Umar Mir, the spokesman said, he was also involved in several attacks and was part of militant groups responsible for attacks on (government) forces.
Meanwhile, after conducting all legal formalities the bodies of the slain militants and the civilian were handed over to legal heirs for last rites. Thousands of people attended the funeral prayers of the slain militants and civilians at their native villages and were later buried amid pro-freedom slogans.
The slain civilian Rayees Ahmad Dar (25) had completed his MBA in 2016 through Islamic University of Science & Technology and was pursuing a course in Islamic Banking through IGNOU. Dar was later buried in his ancestral graveyard at Pakherpora. Before his burial, thousands of people held a separate funeral for Rayees at Pakherpora. Earlier thousands of people attended Rayeess funeral at Dalipora where his family had shifted some 15-years back.
Police said three militants and a soldier were killed in a gunfight at Handew area of the Shopian district. However, family and neighbors of one of the three persons killed contested the police claim, asserting that their kin was not a militant but a civilian.
A police spokesman in a separate statement had said that based on a credible input, a cordon and search operation was launched by police and government forces at Handew area in District Shopian.
During the search operation, the hiding (militants) fired on the search party. In the initial exchange of fire one army soldier identified as Sepoy Rohit also sustained injuries. He has been hospitalized and is undergoing treatment. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter, the spokesman said.
In the ensuing encounter, the spokesman said, 03 (militants) were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. The identities and affiliations of the killed slain is being ascertained, the spokesman had said.
Sources said that Sepoy Rohit Kumar Yadav succumbed to injuries at Badamibagh Army hospital where he was admitted after being airlifted from the Shiopian.
A police officer identified the slain as Shakeel Ahmad Dar alias Abu Wasif son of Abdul Gani Dar of Tukroo, Shopian, Shakir Ahmad Paul alias Owais Amin Baie son of Abdul Ganie Paul of Molu Dangerpora and Yawar Mushtaq alias Khalid Bhai son of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar of Bandpoh Thokerpora Shopian. The slain trio was affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, the officer had said.
Whoever, when the respective families went to PCR to collect the bodies, it surfaced that one among them was not Shakir Ahmad Paul but Ishtiyaq Ahamd Bhat son of Dawood Ahmad Bhat of Hendew imamsahab Shopian. The family and relatives said that Ishtiyaq Ahmad was a civilian and not the militant. A police officer said that the encounter took open space and questioned as to what was Ishtiyaq doing there. There was already a case (FIR 252/2018) under 13, 39 Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and 506 RPC and 7/27 Arms Act registered against him, the police officer said, adding, further investigations are underway. Meanwhile, authorities have decided to suspend train service from Banihal to Baramulla on Friday. (With inputs from GNS)