SRINAGAR: The 42-hour long fierce gunfight between militants and security forces at Arwani in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district ended on Friday with the killing of two militants. The bodies were charred beyond recognition and, even as their DNA samples were collected, conflicting reports came in about their identity.
“We went for a final assault today morning by storming into the house and neutralized the militants who had been firing intermittently,” a police official said.
He said that in the combing operation that was subsequently launched two unidentified bodies were retrieved. “We also retrieved three AK 47 rifles and some incriminating material from the encounter spot,” said a police official adding the operation was called off in the afternoon.
However Army’s Northern Command in a tweet claimed to have eliminated three holed up militants while at the same time maintained that only two bodies have been retrieved. The tweet also said that three weapons have been recovered.
“An army trooper was also injured in the gunfight,” police sources said.
The gun-fight between holed up militants and forces started Wednesday evening at around 5 pm after army, Special Operations Group (SOG) men and paramilitary forces cordoned off the area after inputs about presence of militants. Later, as the operation prolonged, para-troopers were also called in.
Top police and army officials including GOC chinar corps also visited the encounter site.
Reports of Lashkar chief Abu Dujana holed up in the area also poured in. However, according to locals he may have escaped along with a few others.
There was a lull in the firing from both sides till dawn. However, later the firing intensified, locals said.
They said that a lone holed up militant who was firing from the debris kept on engaging the forces throughout the night.
Reports said that heavy weaponry was used to neutralize the holed up militants who kept engaging them in fierce firefight.
“The forces used heavy mortars against the militants,” locals said adding plenty of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were planted razing the house where the militants were hiding.
“Five other houses in the vicinity were also damaged due to the usage of heavy explosive material,” they said.
The loud bangs could be heard since Wednesday evening in Bijbehara town and as far as Anantnag and Mattan towns until Friday morning.
“The bodies were charred beyond recognition as police were seen collecting a few body parts,” they said.
Later, reports started making rounds that charred bodies are of 20 year old Majid Zargar alias Abu Talha of Qaimoh and 27 year old Rahil Amin Dar alias Asif resident of Vesu-Qazigund. Police later handed over the bodies to respective families even as they remained non-committal over their identity.
Thousands participated in the funeral prayers at Qaimoh and Vesu amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans after which they were laid to rest.
The locals and family said that they were handed over a few body pieces for burial.
However, in Vesu locals said suspense grew over the identity of the militant as a masked man suddenly made appearance and announced that the deceased was not RahilAmin . “He (Rahil) is alive,” he announced as the locals and family buried the body.
Rumors were rife that he has escaped from the gun-battle site and is alive.
However, Majid Zargar’s father confirmed to Greater Kashmir that the charred body parts were that of his son. “We only buried his few body parts,” said GhulamMohudinZargar.
Majid – a secondary school pass out from St Luke’s Convent Anantnag was active for last four years where Rahil was a recycled militant active for last 2 years.
South Kashmir on boil:
The death of two militants triggered massive protests and clashes in South Kashmir areas resulting in injuries to dozens.
Clashes erupted between youth and forces in Khudwani village of Qaimoh and Vesu in Qazigund area of Anantnag. “Dozens sustained injuries in the forces’ action in Khudwani as they lobbed shells and fired pellets.”
Some of the injured were shifted to SDH Qaimoh while a few others were treated locally.
Protests were also witnessed near the encounter site during and after the gunfight.
“The protests were going on in the area throughout the night even as people from different villages again tried to march towards the encounter site clashing with forces to help holed up militant escape,” reports said.
They said forces resorted to aerial firing, lobbed shells, fired pellets and few rounds to disperse the protesters who refused to relent. “Several people sustained injuries in the clashes and were shifted to SDH Qaimoh, SDH Bijbehara and PHC Zainapora.”
“The forces had a tough time dealing with the protesters who had been breaking the cordon since the start of the gunfight and clashing with them amid raging gunfight to help the militants flee. At least 40 people sustained pellet and bullet injuries during the gunfight,” locals said.
People from Kulgam, Bijbehara, Qaimoh and Sangam villages had reached the encounter site to help militants escape.
A civilian, Arif Ahmad Shah, was killed in alleged forces’ firing yesterday while the guns were blazing near the encounter site. Police said he was killed by a stray bullet.
Earlier, anticipating trouble during the operation, the government forces blocked major road links so as to prevent more and more people from visiting the besieged village. “Razor wire was placed and barricades erected along Bijbehara-Arwani – Shopian- road, Arwani- Qaimoh road, Arwani- Yaripora road and Khudwani-Arwani- Sangam road.
As the word about the killing of two militants spread people again started protesting and clashed with forces. “Men, women and children all came out and raised pro-freedom slogans.”
Reports of protests and clashes also came from Bijbehara town and Sangam areas of Anantnag.
Police in the evening issued a statement saying that the house where militants were hiding belonged to an Over Ground Worker (OGW) of LeT, Mushtaq Ahmad Ganai. Mushtaq’s son Jehangir was killed in the ongoing uprising in July during protests that erupted following the killing of Hizb commander BurhanWani.
“On 07-12-2016 police received a specific information about the presence of terrorists in the house of one Mushtaq Ahmad Ganie son of GhulamQadirGanie at Hassanpora, TavilaArwani. As per the information Mushtaq Ahmad Ganie works as an over ground worker (OGW) of terrorists of LeT outfit and not only harbored terrorists in his house, but also provides all sort of logistical support to them. Based on this input, an operation was launched by joint team of Anantnag, Awantipora police along with Army and CRPF. The said house was cordoned off and when the security forces party entered into the house for searching, terrorist fired on them. The fire was retaliated and the ensuing gun battle lasted for almost two days. The operation concluded today when a joint team of Jammu and Kashmir police and CRPF’s quick action team (QAT) stormed the house and cleared it. The cover fire to the storming team was given by army troops. In the search operation, two bodies of the terrorists and 3 AK-Rifles along with other incriminating material has been recovered so far. DNA samples from the killed terrorist bodies has been collected for their identification,” police said.
The phone and internet services continued to remain affected for the second consecutive day in twin districts of Anantnag and Kulgam in South Kashmir__GK News