by Saima Bhat
SRINAGAR: In a major blow to Zakir Musa led Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH), the militant outfit lost six of its members, including the deputy commander of the group, in a brief encounter on Nawdal Road in Tral area on Saturday morning. The encounter took place in a hideout on the same road and all the slain militants were locals.
Reportedly they were nine militants in the hideout but three of them managed to escape from the encounter site. Amongst the killed militants, the names of two militants had surfaced in Punjab police’s press briefing in November after they claimed to have cracked Jhalandhar grenade blasts case.
The slain were identified as: Soliha Mohammad Akhoon son of Ghulam Mohammad Akhoon of Arampora, Rasik Mir son of Ghulam Qadir, Rouf Mir son of Ghulam Nabi, Umer Ramzan son of Mohammad Ramzan Mir, residents of Dadsara, Nadeem Sofi son of Mohammad Muzaffar Sofi of Batgund, Tral at present Dadsara and Faisal Javid Khanday son of Javid Khanday of Amlar Awantipora.
An eyewitness told Kashmir Life over the phone that four of these militants even belonged to the same area, Dadsara, where their funeral prayers were held together and then buried in the same graveyard. There were around 10 back-to-back funeral prayers.
As per the police spokesperson a joint team of army’s 42 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation following “credible inputs” about the presence of militants at Arampora hamlet of Dadsara today early in the morning. In the meantime, the forces fired some warning shots towards a “militant hideout” situated in an orchard along the Tral-Awantipora road. The militant group hiding inside the hideout opened fire triggering off a gunfight at around 8 am, which lasted for a brief time, he said. During the course of the gunfight, he added, six militants of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind militant outfit including its Deputy Chief Soliha were killed.
Kashmir Police Chief S P Pani said that it was a clean operation. “We suffered no loss and we had not to face any law and order situation,” he told reporters after the encounter.
Soon after the news about the killing of six militants spread like wildfire, clashes broke out between the government forces and people in parts of Tral. Reportedly youth in groups assembled at various places in Tral and held pro-freedom demonstrations. However, forces deployed at various places used tear gas smoke shells to disperse the protestors. And the Internet services were also suspended in the Awantipora district and Tral areas.
After completing the medico-legal formalities, police says, the bodies were handed over to their legal heirs.
An eyewitness informed Kashmir Life that at least ten rounds of funeral prayers were held for the slain militants. Four of the slain militants Rasiq Mir, Rouf Mir, Nadeem Sofi and Umer Ramzan, were laid to rest at a single graveyard in the Dadsara village.
Two other slain militants, Soliha Mohammad Akhoon and Faisal Khanday, were respectively laid to rest at their ancestral graveyards in Arampora and Amlar area of the district.
As per a police official, amongst the killed militants, Rasiq was the longest surviving militant who had joined militant ranks some five years ago in 2014.
Rasiq, 25, was a son of a retired senior assistant in a government office. He is survived by his parents and two brothers.
Another militant Rouf Mir, 21, is survived by his parents and two siblings: brother is a student of class twelfth and sister a student of class 10th. His father is a kangri maker. He had recently joined militant ranks, around a month ago. His friend Umar Ramzan, 21, had also joined the same militant outfit a month ago. His parents survive him along with his two student brothers. One is pursuing graduation and another is in class twelfth. His father is a painter.
Both these friends, as per their neighbour, joined militant ranks after their name was mentioned by Punjab police’s in a press statement who claimed Rouf and Umar were involved in the four grenade blasts in Jalandhar.
Nadeem Sofi, actually belongs to Batgund in Tral but since his childhood, he has lived in his maternal house in Dadsara. He had joined militant outfit almost a year back.
Soliha, 21, had joined militant ranks two years ago in 2015, when he had just appeared in two papers of his twelfth standard. He is survived by his parents and three brothers. The family has recently shifted to Tral.
Soliha Akhoon’s actually belonged to Kupwara district. Reportedly his grandfather was a militant who was killed long back in Lolab. After his grandfather’s killing, the family had shifted to Parimpora but they were repeatedly raided by government forces and it compelled the family to shift to Tral.
The sixth militant Faisal, 19, had also joined the group recently, some seven months back, during the holy month of Ramadhan.
“After the encounter, the Jammu and Kashmir Police released a statement reading the killed militants were involved in a number of cases.
Apropos our earlier press release regarding the encounter at Awantipora, it is further informed that the killed terrorists have been identified as Soliha Mohammad Akhoon son of Ghulam Mohammad Akhoon resident of Arampora Tral, Faisal resident of Amlar, Nadeem Ahmad Sofi son of Muzzafar Ahmad Sofi resident of Batagund Tral, Rasiq Mir son of Ghulam Qadir Mir resident of Mir Mohalla Dadsara Tral, Rouf and Umar both residents of Dadsara Tral.
All the six terrorists were wanted by the law for their complicity in a series of terror crimes including an attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. This terrorist group was part of Zakir Mousa faction and was active in district Pulwama.
As per Police records, Rasiq had a long history of terror crime records since last five years. Several terror cases were registered against him including case FIR number 170/2016 under section 13, 18, 18E, 20 ULAP Act.
Soliha according to police records also had a long history of terror crimes since 2015 and was involved in several terror attacks on security establishments and many other civilian atrocities in the area.
Similarly, Nadeem and Umar were also involved in several terror crimes. Also, Rouf and Faisal were involved in planning and executing many terror attacks in the area.
Bodies of all the six terrorists after completion of medico-legal formalities were handed over to their legal heirs.
Arms & ammunition including rifles were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and probe their complicity in other terror cases.
Citizens are once again requested not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials.”