Student leader killed in Dalgate turns out to be senior militant
9 August 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: A student leader, enrolled in undergraduation course at Amar Singh College, today turned out to be a senior militant of Al-Mansoorain guerrilla outfit amid protests by residents of Dalgate locality who insisted that CRPF had killed 'an innocent youth in cold blood'. Meanwhile, Police and security forces claimed to have eliminated Harkatul Mujahideen 'Divisional Commander' 'Major' Gul in an encounter in Shopian area in south Kashmir. Killing of a 22-year-old youth in a broad daylight shootout by CRPF at Dalgate sent shockwaves in Srinagar uptown as residents put up a protest demonstration and shopkeepers observed shutdown. Some of the residents alleged that CRPF had taken the revenge of last week's militant strike in which two soldiers had been shot dead. Inspector General CRPF, Kashmir, A P Maheshwari told mediapersons that during a checking operation a militant took out a grenade and attempted to target the CRPF party but it went off. He said that the CRPF party retaliated quickly, killing the militant on spot. According to him, another live grenade was recovered from the militant's belonging. He said that one-rank-up promotion, suitable cash rewards and gallantry medals had been immediately recommended for the soldiers who gunned down the militant with no damage to CRPF and the large number of civilians around. SSP Srinagar, Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba said that an identity card was recovered from the slain youth's possession which identified him as Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh S-o Mohammad Sultan Sheikh R-o Tawheed Abad, Ashtengo, Bandipore. He said that Police were trying to check identity, antecedents and background of the youth killed. Other sources in Police added that Sheikh's Airtel mobile phone, 9906806779, was also recovered from his belongings and seized by Police. Shopkeepers and residents, however, insisted that the youth was killed without any provocation and reason and he was not carrying any grenade. They downed shutters in protest and put up a demonstration. Eyewitnesses said that four of the CRPF soldiers girdled around the youth quickly and fired several shots, killing him on spot. A 60-year-old cobbler, Ghulam Nabi Sheikh said that he heard several shots. When most of the people ran away and some residents approached the spot, CRPF men told them that the youth was shot dead when he took out a grenade and began lobbing it on the soldiers. Some of the youth, who described themselves as students of Amar Singh College, refuted official versions of the dramatic shootout and said that the slain Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh of Ashtengo, Bandipore, was a student of their college who was also President of Muslim Students Union. They said that the student leader was an undergraduation student of Amar Singh College with 1421 as his roll number and he had been putting up in Dalgate for quite some time to pursue his studies. Police officers in Baramulla and Bandipore said that they checked the antecedents of Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh S-o Mohammad Sultan Sheikh at Ashtengo, on Bandipore-Sopore Road, who was found to be a 22-year-old shopkeeper who had passed his class 12th examination. He was not a listed militant and nothing adverse was found against him in Bandipore area. Villagers told Police that Sheikh had been occasionally visiting Srinagar for getting merchandise for his shop. However, they were not immediately sure whether the same individual had got killed or someone else had carried a fake identity card in his name. While Dalgate area was tense over the 'cold blooded murder of an innocent student by CRPF' and Police officials in north Kashmir did not find anything adverse in Sheikh's background and antecedents, spokesman of Al-Mansoorain, Abu Arqam, confirmed to KNS over telephone that Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh of Tawheedabad Ashtengo, Bandipore, was a senior militant of his organisation with Naweedul Haq as his code-name. The spokesman paid tributes to the slain militant and revealed to the newsagency that he had remained associated with the guerrilla organisation for the last several years. He claimed that Sheikh had participated in a number of operations for Al-Mansoorain. Meanwhile, informed sources in south Kashmir told the EXCELSIOR that District Police Pulwama, District Police Srinagar, CRPF and Army launched a cordon-and-search operation at Neeldora village in Shopian area late last night. The operation was launched over a specific information which suggested presence of a top functionary of Harkatul Mujahideen at a hideout. In the wee hours, an armed militant opened fire and made an unsuccessful attempt to break the cordon and escape. He was gunned down by a soldier manning an LMG post. Later, he was identified as Mohammad Sulaiman Bhatti alias Maj Gul alias Abu Ghaznavi alias Sayeed S-o Mohammad Nawaz Bhatti R-o Zaffarabad Colony, Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan. Sources said that an identity card in the name of Suhail Ahmed Wani S-o Bashir Ahmed Wani R-o Chotipora, Shopian, was recovered from the pocket of the militant killed in the shootout but it turned out to be fake. Later in the day, a Harkatul Mujahideen spokesman, Hassan Askari, confirmed the death of his organisation's commander to KNS but claimed that four soldiers had also got killed and two more injured in the gunbattle. Officials insisted that security forces or police didn't suffer any damage. SP Pulwama Nitish Kumar said that Major Gul had been working as 'Divisional Commander' with Harkatul Mujahideen for the last several months. He said that, according to Police reports, he was responsible for many acts of extortion and several killings, including those of Javed Ahmed Shah of Nadigam on 7-5-2006, Azad Ahmed Bhat on 1-6-2006 and Bashir Ahmed of Kokernag on 14-7-2006. He said that Maj Gul was among the militants who had kidnapped and brutally beheaded a 17- year-old student, Mukhtar Ahmed Sheikh S-o Ghulam Hassan Sheikh R-o Chak Kachhdora on 17-7-2006. The militant was also involved in some bank robberies, incidents of extortion and recruitment of fresh cadres in Harkatul Mujahideen, he said. Sources said that the slain militant had also 'extorted' money from a sitting MLA and PDP leader in south Kashmir. Some officials insisted that since May this year, Major Gul was also holding the additional charge of Harkat's 'Divisional Commander' for Central Kashmir.