SRI NAGAR: Militant numbers in Shopian in south Kashmir grew fourfold after the killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016, and 11 of the 12 ultras killed in Sunday’s encounters in the Dragad and Kachudoora areas of the district had joined militancy last year, police have said.
The seven militants killed in Dragad, all from Shopian, were identified as Adil Thoker of Humhona, Zainpora; Rayees Ahmad Thoker of Padderpora; Yawar Ahmad Yatoo of Safa Nagri, Zainpora; Zubair Ahmad Turray of Bonbazar; Ishfaq Ahmad Malik of Pinjoora; and Nazim Dar of Urpora Nagbal.
The five militants killed in Kachudoora were identified as Ishfaq Thokar of Paddarpora, Shopian; Aitmad Hussain Dar of Amshipora, Shopian; Aqib Bashir of DH Pora, Kulgam; Sameer Lone of Hillow, Shopian; and Gayas ul Islam Thoker of Paderpora, Shopian.
A S Dinkar, SSP Shopian, told The New Indian Express that barring Ishfaq Thoker, who joined militancy in September 2015, all the others had joined militant ranks after Wani’s killing.
Another senior police officer said that before Burhan’s killing, only eight militants were active in Shopian district. “However, after Burhan’s killing, many local youth joined militant ranks. The figure stood at 32 before the twin encounter on Sunday,” the official said, adding that the hilly terrain in the district provides safe havens to the militants.He said operations against militants in the district would continue as 20 militants were still active in Shopian.
Asked whether some militant commanders managed to escape during the gunfight, he said, “This cannot be confirmed. Rouf Bashir Banday, a 21-year-old Hizb militant, was also killed in an encounter with security forces at Peth, in south Kashmir’s Anantnang district, on Sunday. A day after the encounters, Kashmir remained on edge and the strike called by separatists and curfew-like restrictions imposed by authorities paralysed normal life in Kashmir.
Police, paramilitary and Army personnel were deployed in strength in curfew-bound areas to enforce restrictions and maintain law and order. In the areas where restrictions were not imposed, the shutdown called by separatists against militant and civilian killings in south Kashmir on Sunday paralysed life. All shops, business establishments, educational institutions and petrol pumps remained closed while public transport was off the roads. Work in government offices and banks was affected.
Youths at many places in Srinagar, including Nawa Kadal, Qamarwari, Maloora, Parimpora, Rambagh, Batamaloo and Gol Chowk, and Shopian, threw stones at security personnel. In retaliation, the police fired tear smoke shells.In Pulwama, protesters attacked a CRPF bunker with stones. The cops retaliated by lobbing tear smoke shells. Clashes were also reported from Anantnag and Bandipora districts. Two protesters and a policeman were injured in clashes in Safapora.