Srinagar/Anantnag: One of the most popular militant commanders, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, was killed in south Kashmir’s Kokernag pocket on Friday evening along with his two local colleagues.
Thousands of people poured onto streets in south Kashmir and old parts of Srinagar soon after pictures of Wani’s body began circulating through the internet.
21-year-old Burhan—who had rattled the security establishment over the years with his carefully-shot videos and photographs on social networking sites—died along with his two associates in Waybemdura village of Kokernag, some 80 kms south of Srinagar—on Friday evening, police said.
One of the two associates of Burhan—killed in today’s gunfight—was identified by police as Sartaj Ahmad from Boochu village of Kokernag. The identity of the other militant couldn’t be immediately ascertained, a police official said.
“The gunfight began at around 6.30 pm and lasted for about an hour. A policeman was also injured in it,” the official said, while giving details about the encounter “jointly carried out by cops from Cargo Srinagar, Army and Special Operations Group of J&K Police.”
“We had specific information about presence of militants in the Kokernag area. The special force from Cargo Srinagar, Army’s 19 RR, Special Operation Group (SOG) of police launched searches in WayBemdura village on Friday evening. The militants holed up inside one of the houses fired on the search party, triggering an encounter,” the police official said.
He said a militant was killed in initial stage of the gunfight while a policeman from Cargo also sustained a bullet injury.
“The other two holed up militants continued to engage the forces in a gunfight but both were neutralized later,” he said.
The militant killed during initial exchange of fire was identified as Sartaj Ahmad of Sheikh Takia, Boochu village of Kokernag, police said. “Sartaj was a recycled militant active for the past six months.”
The bodies of two other militants were also found near the encounter site and one among these was identified as Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the young Hizb commander from Tral area of South Kashmir who used the social media to send out his messages.
MASSIVE PROTESTS IN ANANTNAG, ELSEWHERE
As soon as the word about Burhan’s death in the Kokernag gunfight spread, people in Kokernag, Anantnag, Kulgam, Kaimoh, Khudwani, Redwani and Bijbehara instantly took to streets, held pro-freedom demonstrations and clashed with forces. Scores of mosques quickly reverberated with pro-freedom slogans while people used Public Address Systems to raise pro-azadi, pro-Pakistan, pro-Burhan and anti-India slogans, witnesses told Greater Kashmir.
In Anantnag town, people gathered in Lal Chowk and almost every eye was moist.
Son of a Higher Secondary School principal, Burhan had joined Hizb militant outfit in 2010. His elder brother Khalid Muzaffar was shot dead by the Army last year.
Last month, after an attack in Anantnag town in which two policemen were injured, Burhan released a video warning against establishment of separate Pandit and Sainik colonies in the Valley. He also warned J&K policemen to stop “anti-movement” activities.