SRINAGAR: Two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Sunday while a soldier, who had fled from an army camp early this month, has joined the militant ranks.
A police official said acting on intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, police, CRPF and army men launched a joint combing and search operation at Tahab village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district early this morning to flush out the militants hiding there.
He said while the security personnel were conducting searches, they came under fire from the militants hiding in the area.
“The fire was returned by the troops, triggering an encounter. In the ensuing gunfight, two Hizb militants were killed,” the official said adding an army man sustained minor injuries in the gunfight.
The slain militants were identified as Shariq Ahmad and Showkat Ahmed alias Shabir, both locals militants.
They had joined militant ranks this year.
After killing of militants, locals of the area, especially youth took to roads and staged protest demonstration. Chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the protestors pelted stones on security personnel, who fired pellets, bullets and resorted to heavy tear gas shelling to disperse the protestors.
About a dozen youth were injured in the security forces action. One of the youth identified as Asif Ahmad was hit by bullet in chest and was shifted to a hospital, where doctors have termed his condition critical.
After the protests, authorities suspended internet services in entire Pulwama district to prevent spread of protests.
Later, thousands of people attended the funeral prayers of slain HM militant Shariq Ahmad at his ancestral village in Takuna, Pulwama amidst pro-freedom and anti-India sloganeering.
Top Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo armed with AK-47 rifle also appeared in the funeral of Shariq and addressed the people on the occasion.
He said efforts were being made to defame the Kashmir’s struggle and asked people not to support those, who oppose waving of Pakistani flag and chanting of Pakistan slogans.
Without naming former Hizb commander Zakir Musa, who has been named as head of Al-Qaeda’s Kashmir cell, Naikoo said, “All people holding the flag of Islam are not necessarily our own. Linking our struggle with Al Qaeda and ISIS is a ploy to defame it”.
Meanwhile, an army man Zahoor Ahmed Thakur of 173 bn, who had fled from army camp in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district along with his service rifle on July 6, has joined Hizbul Mujahideen.
It was revealed by Hizb spokesman, Saleem Hashmi, in an emailed statement to media persons.
He said other policemen and officers will follow the suit. “Zahoor will prove an asset for the ongoing struggle”.
Zahoor, a resident of Sirnoo area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, fled with an AK -47 rifles and three magazines from the 173 unit of Territorial Army located in Gantmulla area of Baramulla on July 6.
After he fled from the camp, security forces had launched an alert across the Valley to nab him.