March 2019 News

3 Pulwama Militants Killed At Night In Forest Hideout

28 March 2019
Kashmir Reader
Raashid Hassan

Shopian: Three militants of the Hizb ul-Mujahideen were killed in a nocturnal encounter in Yarwan forests of south Kashmir's Shopian district Wednesday night. All the three slain militants were natives of three villages in neighbouring Pulwama district. Police said that on specific input about the presence of militants, a joint team of forces including 23 para of army, Jammu and Kashmir Police and central reserve police force (CRPF) launched a cordon and search operation in Yarwan forests. They said the search party was fired upon by militants, leading to an encounter. Three militants were killed in the gunfight, police said, while arms and ammunition were recovered from the militants' possession. Soon after news of the encounter broke, youths in several areas of south Kashmir began pelting government forces with stones. Witnesses said that at Muran Chowk in Pulwama town, youths hurled stones while government forces fired tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse them. There was however no report of any injury on either side. The slain militants were identified as Aaqib Ahmad Dar, son of Abdul Ahad Dar, resident of Bhatnora village of Pulwama; Sajad Ahmad Khanday, son of Muhammad Akber Khanday, resident of Bamnoo village of Pulwama; and Basharat Ahmad Mir, son of Muhammad Rafiq Mir, resident of Wasoora Pulwama. Police sources said that it was a night operation which started at about 1am and continued till the morning. They said that the militants were hiding in a hideout in Yarwan forests. The sources added that last year, a big hideout was busted by a joint team of forces in the same area in which a huge cache of household things was recovered which included blankets, LPG cylinders, rice, generator, and many food items and buckets. Last week, two Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were killed at Gadapora village of Shopian in an encounter during which six houses and three cowsheds were razed to rubble and seven domestic animals were killed. People in Shopian and Pulwama districts observed a spontaneous shutdown against the killing of the three local militants. Internet services were barred in both the districts by the authorities. Slain militant Basharat Ahmad Mir, resident of Wasoora Pulwama, was laid to rest at his maternal family's graveyard in Naira Pulwama. Thousands of people participated in his funeral amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Locals said that Basharat's mother was divorced and he was brought up in his maternal uncle's house. They said that Basharat joined militant ranks in October 2017. Villagers said that after completing matriculation, he was working as a salesman in a local shop. Aaqib Ahmad Dar, resident of Bhatnoora Lassipora, was a Sumo cab driver before he joined militant ranks in October 2017, local sources said. They said Aaqib was arrested by police several times on charges of having links with militants. A relative said that Aaqib was tortured by government forces which forced him to join militant ranks. The relative said that three months after Aaqib was released from police custody the last time, he left home and after a few days his photograph showing him carrying a gun went viral on social media. The relative also said that Aaqib's family members were beaten up and their property ransacked several times by government forces after he joined militant ranks. A friend said that Aaqib was a completely changed person since the 2016 agitation in Kashmir. 'He was following principles of Islam in letter and spirit since then,' the friend said. A school dropout and belonging to a middle-class family, Aaqib is survived by four brothers and two sisters besides his parents. Thousands of people participated in his funeral prayers which were held in a local ground near the graveyard in Bhatnoora. Eyewitness said that thousands of men, women and children participated in his last rites before he was laid to rest in the local graveyard amid massive pro-freedom slogans. Militants also appeared at his funeral and offered a gun salute, witnesses said.