Top Hizb commanders killed in Pulwama
24 June 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: Even as the killing of a student in 'crossfiring' evoked massive protest in Pattan and three of the demonstrators got injured in another shootout, Police and security forces today claimed to have eliminated two of the most wanted commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen in Pulwama. Meanwhile, one civilian got killed and 10 others sustained injuries when suspected militants lobbed a hand grenade towards a CRPF bunker at Dashnami Akhara in the crowded Budshah Chowk in this capital city today. Authoritative sources told the Excelsior that District Police Pulwama, with the support of troops of Rashtriya Rifles 55 Bn swooped on a militant hideout late last night after getting a tip off regarding the presence of two senior commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen at Mirbagh, Ratnipora. According to the information, the militant duo was present at the house of one Mohammed Shafi Andrabi. A fierce gunbattle took place in which militants killed Captain S P Singh of RR 55 Bn. In retaliation, Police and troops killed both the holed up militants. The militants killed in action were identified as Hizbul Mujahideen's 'District Commander' Nisar Ahmed Sofi alias Turab S-o Haji Abdus Salam R-o Ratnipora and 'Deputy District Commander' Sarfaraz Ahmed Dar alias Salfi S-o Master Ghulam Qadir R-o Samboora, Pulwama. Official sources claimed that Nisar was among the most wanted militant in south Kashmir and was involved in the killing of his outfit's intelligence chief Tariq Aziz in 2004. He was also said to be involved in the killing of a prominent social and political activist and a devotional poet Ghulam Rasool Ghayoor last year. An IED expert, Nisar was also allegedly involved in many civilian killings and was wanted in at least a dozen FIRs registered against him in many militancy related incidents. A Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman, Junaid-ul-Islam, denied that the militants killed in Pulwama were the organisation's 'District Commander' and 'Deputy District Commander'. He confirmed that Sofi had got killed after operating in Pulwama area for the last five years. According to him, they were lower rung cadres of the outfit. He claimed that at least five soldiers were killed in the gunbattle. Sources said that an unidentified militant lobbed a hand grenade towards a CRPF bunker outside Dashnami Akhara in the crowded marketplace of Budshah Chowk in the afternoon today. As the grenade exploded, eleven persons, including a CRPF personnel, sustained splinter injuries. Most of the injured were evacuated and rushed to different hospitals in town. Later, one of the critically injured civilians breathed his last. He was identified as Ali Mohammad Parray S-o Abli Parray R-o Nopora, Sopore. Sources said that an Assistant Commandant of 172 Battalion CRPF was injured when a mysterious fire hit him late last night at his camp in Hazratbal. He was admitted to a hospital. Sources said that Vice Chairperson of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, Mrs Tanveer Jahan, escaped unhurt when suspected militants opened fire on her vehicle in Aabi Karpora Nishat today. No damage of life was reported. Pattan tense Informed sources in north Kashmir said that militants fired from a distance on a CRPF convoy near Palhalan in Pattan area on Srinagar-Baramulla highway in the forenoon today. As the CRPF quick reaction team retaliated, a class 12th student, namely Tariq Ahmed Sofi S-o Ghulam Mohammad Sofi R-o Palhalan, got killed. Even as CRPF insisted that the innocent young student got killed in 'crossfiring', angry residents gathered and they alleged that Tariq had been gunned down by CRPF soldiers after the militants vanished. They insisted that no militant was seen anywhere in close vicinity of the highway. Some of the residents alleged that CRPF's firing was the result of a misfire by a soldier. The student's death in the controversial shootout evoked a massive protest as residents downed shutters, and forced the vehicular movement on the highway to freeze for the whole day. They shouted slogans against forces and attacked an armoured vehicle of the CRPF. As they attempted to set the CRPF bunker on fire, troops opened fire, causing injuries to three more demonstrators. Para military forces and protestors fought ding dong battles resulting into the suspension of traffic on Srinagar Baramulla Highway. The protestors took out a procession till police station Pattan and attempted to set it on fire. Sources said that the protestors tried to storm into the police station and in the retaliatory action police fired teargas shells and several round of fire to disperse the violent mob. The protestors pelted stones at the police station resulting into injuries to at least six cops and in the police action at least a dozen civilians were injured. Pattan-Palhalan belt was extremely tense when reports last came in this evening. However, officials claimed that the situation was under control and traffic was restored on the highway in the evening.