SRINAGAR: 40 injured in day-long clashes; 12 hit by bullets; Nurse, student injured in firing outside hospital; Thousands participate in funeral prayers
Government forces on Tuesday killed a top commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba Abu Dujana and his associate in a gunfight in Pulwama district, even as a civilian was shot dead and 40 others wounded when government forces fired at protesters near the gun-battle site. However, police claimed that the civilian was killed in “cross firing.” A residential house where the militants were holed up was also blasted.
A police official said following tip-off, a joint party of army, police and Central Reserve Police Force cordoned off Hakdipora village of Pulwama district during the wee hours and launched searches.
“As the searches were on, militants opened fire which was retaliated to, triggering a gunfight in which two militants were killed,” he said.
He said the slain militants were later identified as Abu Dujana and his associate Arif Nabi Dar son of Ghulam Nabi of Lelhara, Pulwama.
“Abu Dujana was active since 2013 in Kashmir and had succeeded Abu Qasim after he was killed on October 29, 2015 in Kulgam district. He was carrying a bounty of Rs 15 lakh on his head,” the police official said.
The body of Dujana was taken to Baramulla for last rites and not handed over to locals.
The slain LeT commander had several times given a slip to government forces in Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts.
YOUTH KILLED, 40 INJURED IN CLASHES
As the word about killing of Dujana and his associate spread, youth from different areas rushed to Hakdipora and fought pitched battles with government forces. Soon, clashes erupted in many areas of Pulwama district.
A youth identified as Firdous Ahmad Khan, 30, son of Muhammad Shaban of Beegumbagh Kakapora was hit by a bullet near the gunfight site as government forces resorted to “indiscriminate” firing to disperse the protesters, locals said.
Khan was rushed to district hospital where doctors declared him as brought dead, they said.
However, a police spokesman claimed that Khan was killed in cross firing between militants and the forces.
At least 12 persons were hit by bullets as government forces opened fire on protesters at many places across Pulwama district. A youth identified as Akeel Ahmad Bhat was hit by a bullet on chest during clashes at Gabarpora Hawl. He was immediately moved to district hospital Pulwama where from doctors referred him to SMHS hospital Srinagar.
As the clashes were on at several places, youth pelted forces with stones outside district hospital in Pulwama. The forces retaliated with bullets. Many persons were injured in the firing. Bullets hit the hospital building too.
“A youth was hit by a bullet in foot. He had a shattered foot. We treated him and referred him to Srinagar. A nurse Gulzara Akhtar and a paramedic student Kawsara were injured by bullet splinters in firing outside the hospital,” medical superintendent of district hospital Pulwama Dr Rasheed Para said.
“Many bullets have hit the hospital and there are fire marks in the ward,” a doctor said.
Clashes also erupted at many places in Shopian district including main town and Gabarpora, even as several areas observed a spontaneous shutdown.
THOUSANDS JOIN FUNERALS
Thousands of people participated in the funeral procession of the slain militant Arif Nabi Dar and civilian Firdous Ahmed Khan at Lelhara and Beegumbagh villages respectively.
As the body of Ahmad reached in his native village, thousands of people who had assembled there staged massive protests against his killing, and participated in his funeral prayers. He is survived by his parents and a three-year-old daughter.
Thousands of people from different areas reached Lelhara, the village of the slain militant, and staged massive protests. Later the body was taken to the graveyard where thousands of people participated in his funeral procession. The funeral prayers were offered at least thrice due to huge rush of the people.
In a statement, a police spokesman said: “Chief operating commander of LeT Abu Dujana and his associate were killed in an encounter with police and security forces in Hakripora village of Pulwama this morning.”
“Acting on a specific information about presence of militants in Hakripora area, police along with 55 RR, 182 Bn and 183 Bn CRPF launched a cordon and search operation. During the search operation, militants present in the area fired upon the joint search party. The fire was retaliated to, triggering an encounter. Two LeT militants were killed in this encounter. They were later identified as Abu Dujana and Arif Nabi Dar @Rehan son of Ghulam Nabi Dar resident of Lelhar, Kakapora,” he added.
“One person identified as Firduos Ahmad Bhat son of Muhammad Subhan of Begumbagh, Kakapora was also injured near the encounter site during the cross firing. He was shifted to hospital for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries,” the spokesman claimed.
“Both the slain militants were involved in a number of subversive activities. They were involved in grenade attacks on security forces at Kakapora and police post Kakapora. They were also involved in killing of Sarpanch Fayaz Ahmad Bhat son of Abdul Ghafar Bhat of Kandzal Kakapora. Dujana was one of the closest associates of Abdul Rehman @ Abu Qasim and involved in Udhampur attack. Abu Dujana was instrumental in recruiting the local youth in LeT outfit. He was involved in recruiting Reyaz Ahmad Dar @ Khalid son of Abdul Aziz Dar of Satther Kakapora Pulwama, Arif Nabi Dar alias Rehan of Lelhar Kakapora and Ayoub Lone alias Hebtulla of Lelhar Kakapora. He was involved in killing of two CRPF personnel at Sangam Bijbehara and attack on police party at Gallander Pampore in which two 2 constables of JKAP 11th Bn were killed. He was also involved in hurling hand grenade upon security forces at Pahoo Awantipora. He was involved in firing on CRPF at Green Tunnel Bijbehara in which several CRPF personnel were injured. He and his associates were involved in firing on security forces in Pulwama,” the spokesman said.
“Arif Nabi Dar alias Rehan was involved in four bank robberies at J&K bank branch Arihal, Ratnipora, Nehama and Ellaquai Dehati Bank Wahibugh branch. Arms and ammunition were also recovered from the encounter site. At some places miscreants tried to create disturbances by pelting stones in Pulwama and adjoining areas. While dealing with the situation 10 persons have got injured who are till now stable and undergoing treatment at various hospitals,” the spokesman said.__GK News