Pulwama, July 30 (KMS): Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in Tahab village of Pulwama district by government forces in an encounter on Sunday. Dozens of youth were injured in massive clashes between government forces and youth following the killing of the militants. Complete shutdown was observed and Internet was snapped in Pulwama and Shopian districts soon after the encounter.
Police said government forces cordoned off Tahab during night following inputs about presence of militants.
“As forces launched search operation, contact was made with militants. The militants tried to break the cordon but the forces had already sealed the area. Two militants were killed in the exchange of fire,” police said.
They were identified as Shariq Ahmed Sheikh alias Harris resident of Gulzarpora Takuna and Shabir Ahmad Mir resident of Mihind Bijbehara, Anantnag.
“Some militants managed to escape from the cordon,” sources said.
Soon after the killings, youth took to streets and held protests. They pelted stones on the government forces. The forces lobbed tear gas shells, fired pellets, triggering clashes which continued for the whole day.
Clashes also erupted in Pulwama town following the encounter. Dozens of youth were injured in the clashes, two youth were shot with bullets by government forces.
One youth identified as Asif Ahmad resident of Lassipora was shot with bullet in chest by government forces. Another youth identified as Muhammad Umar resident of Tahab was shot in foot.
“We received five injured. One of them was hit by bullet in chest. Asif had firearm injury in chest. We referred him to Srinagar,” a medical officer of district hospital Pulwama said. Locals said that forces ransacked houses in Tahab and Naira during clashes.
The administration snapped the Internet services in Pulwama and Shopian districts soon after the encounter. Complete shutdown was observed in Pulwama district.
In Gulzarpora village of Awantipora, thousands of people including HM divisional commander Riyaz Naikoo participated in the funeral prayers of Shariq Ahmed Sheikh. At least three back to back funeral prayers were held at Government Higher Secondary School compound in Takuna village.
Naikoo suddenly appeared in the huge gathering and addressed people amid massive sloganeering by people. People jostled to shake hands with him, hug and kiss him although he tried to keep a gap.
Naikoo cautioned people not to “fall in trap,” he said that efforts were being made to defame the Kashmir freedom struggle.
“Pakistan flag is our flag. Linking our struggle with Al-Qaeda and ISIS is a strategy to defame our struggle,” he said.
Shariq (25) before joining militant ranks was 12th standard student at Government Higher Secondary School Takuna.
According to family, Shariq joined militancy in January 2017. “It was snowing here when he left home and later by evening his family was informed that their son has joined militancy,” said a local wishing not to be named.
Shariq is survived by his parents and his two siblings — one brother and a sister. He was youngest. His father Ali Mohammad Sheikh is a farmer.
Soon after the news about Shariq’s killing broke, people from Awantipora, Charsoo, Tral and Tahab started arriving in Gulzarpora.
Amid sobs, 22 year old Shabir Ahmad, also killed in the gun-battle, was laid to rest at his native place in Mehand village in Dochnipora belt of Bijbehara in Anantnag district. Thousands turned up at his funeral.
Two back to back funerals were offered for the deceased militant – also known by the name of Showkat alias Zeeshan. He was active in militant ranks for past four months.
As soon as the word about Showkat being killed in an encounter spread, people from all Dachnipora villages of Bijbehara and Pahalgam as well as other parts of Anantnag and Kulgam districts thronged Mehand village.
People were seen eagerly waiting for the body to have his last glimpse. At around 3 PM Showkat’s body reached his native village as people raised slogans. His first funereal which was lead by his uncle witnessed attendance of at least 15,000 people and the second one which was lead by his father Muhammad Ahsan Mir more people participated.
Local Hurriyat leaders addressed the people.
He was later laid to rest in the martyrs’ graveyard with his body draped in a Pakistani flag.
Showkat, according to villagers, was running his own orchard business while his father is Imam of the local mosque. Complete shutdown was observed in Bijbehara town and adjoining villages – Srigufwara, Kanelwan to mourn the death of Showkat.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted in Brazloo village of Kulgam district Sunday late evening after government forces launched search operation in the area.
Police, army and paramilitary forces launched cordon and search operation in Brazloo village at around 7:30 PM. “As the cordon was on, youth came out and pelted stones on the forces who lobbed tear gas shells,” reports said. They said that intense clashes were going on in the area.
SSP Pulwama Choudry Aslam said, “The militants rushed towards orchards to break the cordon but were killed. We can’t say if any militant escaped from cordon.”
‘One youth from Lassipora was hit by bullet. He is undergoing treatment in SMHS. But another youth of Tahab was not hit by bullet. He was hit by tear shell”.