Militant Killed In Budgam Encounter Had Saved 19 Soldiers In 2014

Slain militant Asif Muzaffar Shah – File photo

Srinagar: The militant killed in an overnight encounter by the government forces in central Kashmir’s Chrar-i-Sharif quarter was once hailed by the authorities after he rescued at least 19 army soldiers during the devastating floods of 2014.

26-year-old Asif Muzaffar Shah, a resident of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district was killed in an encounter by a joint team of army, police and CRPF in Nowhard village of Chrar-i-Sharif on Tuesday. However, his death in the gunfight has also revealed an unheard story of his wit, valour and courage.

Coming from a modest family, Shah was the eldest among two siblings. He completed his graduation in Arts subject from Government Degree College Pulwama. His father was a retired teacher of Zaffran Public High School, Samboora, while his mother is a housewife.

Before taking up arms this year in August, Shah was running a cosmetic and stationary shop at Kakpora area of the district to support his family, including his ailing mother, a close neighbor told Kashmir Observer.

However, prior to joining militancy, Shah, according to him had won widespread accolades for saving nearly 19 soldiers, who were caught in ravaging floods of 2014 in Samboora.

“When the gushing waters were sweeping villages one after another, two army Cassiper vehicles from Lethpora camp got stuck in the floods at Samboora. Asif Shah demonstrated wit and courage and rescued the soldiers who had climbed the roof of the armored vehicle,” said the neighbor.

Shah, he said, took a large boat and rescued the soldiers, including a captain who were shouting for help atop the vehicles. “He didn’t only rescue soldiers but also arranged food and clothing for them. He was a kind and religious person,” he said.

Shah, he said, won appreciation by the army and civil authorities for his exemplary courage. He said the army also offered to provide him a suitable job, which he turned down.

“His act was also praised by politicians. But then, Shah had Kashmir cause dear to him. He would attend pro-freedom rallies and funerals of militants. Many times, he was also arrested on charges of joining protests,” the neighbor said.

However, Shah’s life, he said, took a U-turn when he was arrested on charges of supporting militants following the deadliest attack on state forces in Pulwama in 2019 in which over 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

“He was grilled by police over the attack. He was released after several weeks only to be quizzed again by NIA,” he said.

Talking about Shah’s tryst with arms, the neighbor claimed that four days before he went missing on August 13, he was summoned by NIA to Jammu.

“However, he chose to skip the summon and take a different path,” he added. Later it surfaced that he had joined ranks of a militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad.

Meanwhile, Shah was laid to rest at a graveyard in north Kashmir’s Handwara some 80 kilometers away from his bative village by the police.

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