Major gunbattle underway in Shopian
12 October 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: Even as Police managed to rescue nearly 2,000 people, including about 1,500 students of a private higher secondary school, at least two militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba are holed up in a major operation in Shopian township of south Kashmir. Meanwhile, one militant has been killed by security forces in Kupwara and one soldier has sustained injuries in a militant attack in Bandipore today. Incharge SP Pulwama, Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, told the EXCELSIOR that SOG received information regarding the presence of two militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba at the residential house of advocate Abdul Hai in Alyalpora locality in Shopian town this afternoon. He said that militants opened fire when Police was laying siege to the cluster of houses. Police observed restraint for fear of civilian casualties and concentrated on evacuation of about 1,500 students of Greenland Higher Secondary School, situated adjacent to the advocate's house. He said that Zonal Education Office is also housed on the top floor of the advocate's house. In all, about 500 civilians in addition to 1,500 schoolchildren were successfully evacuated. Incharge SP said that after evacuating the civilians, Police called in troops of Rashtriya Rifles 44 Bn and a fierce gunbattle commenced. He said that one of the militants sustained gunshot wounds but both the militants escaped to the nearby house of one Ghulam Mohiuddin Sheikh. He said that troops and Police had engaged the militants in an encounter and there was little chance of their escaping from the target house. Exchange of gunfire was going on when reports last came in tonight. SP said that one of the holed up militants was a Pakistani and another was believed to be a local cadre of the organisation. Reports from north Kashmir said that Police and security forces killed an unidentified militant in an encounter in Burzyal forest in Chowkibal area of Kupwara district yesterday. Sources said that militants attacked a patrol party of RR 14 Bn at Tsoontimulla in Bandipore area. One soldier sustained injuries in the brief encounter. Sources said that militants managed to escape. On Wednesday one civilian has sustained injuries at Hef Shirmal village in Pulwama district when Police and CRPF raided a house. Officials said that the house owner, who allegedly helped the holed up militants escape, got injured in exchange of fire. Residents held Police and CRPF responsible. Late last evening, suspected militants fired upon a CPI(M) activist Ghulam Rasool Rather and left him wounded in his village of Frisal in Kulgam area. He was evacuated to hospital. Meanwhile, here in the capital city residents of Chhanapora locality in the capital city outskirts conducted the funeral of a youth, namely Irshad Ahmed Lone, who died in mysterious circumstances in Delhi. Dead body was carried by Delhi Police in association with J&K Police all the way from Delhi to Srinagar and handed over to the bereaved family early this morning. While Chhanapora and adjoining localities observed shutdown, over a thousand residents, relatives of the bereaved family and separatist activists held a demonstration in protest against Delhi Police, locally suspected to have arrested and tortured the 24-year-old to death. JKLF chairman Yasin Malik had mobilised the anti-Delhi opinion in the locality immediately after returning from the Union capital and driving straight to the bereaved family on Wednesday. Police today used tearmoke and baton charge to disperse the crowd amid ding-dong clashes after the burial of the youth. Irshad Ahmed Lone was in Delhi in search of a private job after having completed his one-year diploma in automobile trade from ITI Budgam. Irshad's elder brother, Tariq Ahmed Lone, complained to EXCELSIOR that Delhi Police meted out shabby treatment to him and two others who had gone to Delhi in search of the youth who had gone missing from his temporary residence near Qabristan Waali Masjid, Pataudi Chowk. He said that Irshad had disappeared after conveying to his family that he had got a job in a clutch manufacturing factory of Maruti Udyog Ltd and had asked for some money. When cousins Tariq Lone and Aamir Rafeeq reached Delhi, they learned that Irshad had vanished from his residence.