Srinagar, Tral Zakir Musa, Kashmirs most wanted militant commander, who headed the Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Gazwatul Hind, was killed on Thursday night by army in Pulwama district. The news sparked spontaneous protests in many parts of Kashmir with authorities imposing restrictions and snapping mobile internet services.
Informed sources said the army along with paramilitary forces and police started a cordon and search operation in Dadsara village of Tral area following information about the presence of two militants there.
Both the militants were killed in the encounter but there was no confirmation about their identities as the bodies were yet to be retrieved. Authorities remained tight lipped however, Musa’s family confirmed that he was present at the site.
There has been no firing for quite sometime at the encounter site, but government forces are taking precaution before approaching the debris, sources told Kashmir Observer at around 11 PM.
An official said, the trapped militants were asked to surrender. Instead they hurled grenades and started firing, triggering an encounter.
The officials said more government forces were rushed to the area to prevent the militates from escaping under the cover of darkness.
In the meantime, Jammu and Kashmir police announced restrictions in some areas of Pulwama, Awantipora, Srinagar, Anantnag and Budgam as a precautionary measure, sparking speculations about the death of Musa in the encounter.
The officials however said the decision was made keeping in view the Friday prayer gatherings.
Internet was also shutdown as a precautionary measure, they said.
Related Story: Police Hands Over Body of Zakir Musa to Family for Burial
Zakir Musa, a close associate of Burhan Wani who was killed in 2016, was a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen who succeeded Burhan and later parted ways. He later emerged again as head of Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Gazwatul Hind.
Zakir Rashid Bhat, his real name, was an engineering student in Chandigarh who abandoned education and joined militancy in 2013.
He was born in Noorpora village of Tral area. His father, Abdul Rashid Bhat, is a senior engineer working for the Jammu and Kashmir government.
If true, the killing of Zakir Musa will be a big success for the forces.
After Burhan Wani’s death, Zakir Musa had become a household name in the Valley. He at one point even threatened to behead leaders of the Hurriyat Conference for calling Kashmir a political dispute instead of a religious struggle to establish Sharia.
Meanwhile sporadic protests were reported from different parts of the valley after the news about the killing of Zakir Musa broke.
Besides various parts of Srinagar, protests were also reported from Trehgam in Kupwara and Sopora areas. Students of the University of Kashmir also gathered outside Zakoora campus to protest against the killing.
In Rahmoo, Rajpora, Kakapora, Malangpora villages of Pulwama district, pro-freedom Taranas were being played from mosque loudspeakers.
Protests also erupted in Okay, Yaripora and Shouch areas of Kulgam district and Trenz and Imam Shabib areas of Shopian District as well.
Protests were also reported from Soaf-Shali area of Kokernag, Khanabal and Seer Hamdan.
Schools Shut, Mobile Internet Snapped
Authorities today said that class work in all schools and colleges in Kashmir will remain suspended on Friday.
According to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan said classwork in all schools and colleges will remained suspended in Kashmir.
SSP Srinagar Dr Haseeb Mughal said that restrictions will be put in place in Downtown area of Srinagar.
Meanwhile, train service will also remain suspended on Friday (24 May 2019) from Banihall To Baramulla and vice versa, officials said.