SRINAGAR: The overnight encounter in the dusky Batmurran village led to the killing of two Jaish-e-Muhammad militants and a housewife as post-incident clashes led to pellet injuries to many people. At least three protesters have received pellet injuries in their eyes.
After the encounter was over, the entire scene was dominated by thousands of locals who took turns to offer funeral prayers to the slain locals. The drop-scene was while the slain local militant Tanveer Ahmad was being laid to rest, two of his colleagues emerged from nowhere, fired in air as their parts shorts, and left the scene, witnesses said.
Residents told Kashmir Life that the encounter started when a mixed column of counter-insurgent forces comprising army, police and the CRPF rushed to the village at around 3 pm on Monday. As they started cordoning off the village, there was immediate reaction. Some people took to the mike fitted mosque and announced an assembly. Well before the gun-battle started, clashes erupted. Though a section of the posse was busy locating the house, they had information about, most of the cops and the CRPF got busy in the clashes, residents said. They had specific information about the group of militants, that, initial reports said comprised of at least three militants, all belonging to Jaish-e-Muhammad.
More than an hour after, the army had taken the home of Mohammad Yaqub Bhat into cordon. By then, his son was picked by police and interrogated about the presence of militants. As the cordon was effectively in place, and the cops fired the first fire, the reaction from the holed up militants established the contact.
“By 10:35 pm, the internet was down and by 11 pm there was the first blast in the home of Bhat,” locals said. “Subsequently, the army put on its generators and established the floodlighting and reinforced the cordon.”
The encounter started and the intermittent exchanges continued for most of the night. As the early morning Fajr prayers were over, people re-assembled and the clashes erupted again. There were two type of bangs audible from a distance – one the fire exchange between the militants and the army, and the deafening bangs of tear smoke shells amid pellet blasts as well. By then, the forces had blasted two more houses that belonged to Ghulam Ahmad Sheikh and Abdul Ahad Ganai. Three cowsheds of the three families were also damaged. In fact two cows were roasted alive in the gun battle. Bhat lost his car to the encounter as well.
So fierce were the clashes that the neighbouring dispensaries and the hospitals were almost overwhelmed. Sources in various hospitals told Kashmir Life that there were 24 patients registered from the spot that reported to district hospital in Pulwama, 23 reported to Birthpora Public Health Centre and eight were registered at Rajpora Community Health Centre. In some of the cases, the injured were rushed to Srinagar, mostly from Pulwama, in bullet and in serious pellet injury cases.
What changed the situation in the belt was the serious abdomen injury to Ruby Jan, known as Beauty Jan. Family sources said she was sitting on her veranda when the bullet hit her abdomen. She was immediately rushed to the district hospital where she was declared brought dead.
This young 30 years old home-maker was married Manzoor Ahmad Mir, a resident of Rajpora. She had two kids, a son and a daughter. She was facing some conjugal issues with her husband, as a result of which she was living with her parents, who were she was hit by the bullet.
Ruby’s killing had an impact on the overall situation. It added to the anger and more protests broke out. It was at this stage, that the firing between the two sides ebbed.
“It was this stage when the third militant who was alive and fighting somehow fled,” one senior police officer said. “People mistook him as Tanveer and literally followed him till he reached a local ravine called Brag Naad.” Police and locals offer different names about the escaped militant but both the sources insist he was a foreigner.
With confirmation that two are dead and one has fled, the army and police started closing the operation that concluded with the recovery of bodies. Police identified the local as Tanveer Ahmad, an A category militant, who was in operation since September 2016.
“These three militants were responsible for the killing of two bank guards recently,” one police officer told Kashmir Life. “The spot of the clash is barely three kms away from the spot where the bank van was attacked recently.”
Another police officer identified the three bullet hit individuals as Aijaz Ahmad, son of Ghulam Mohammad Dar, a resident of Batpora, Shopian, who received a bullet in his leg and is in SMHS; Jehangir Wani son of Ali Mohammad Wani, a resident of Wathu who had a bullet in thigh and admitted to Bone & Joints Hospital and Imran Munir, a resident of Maspora, who has a chest injury near his chest. “So far, all the three are stable but I have no information about those hit by pellets,” the officer said.
The Police Version
Acting on a specific input, Shopian Police along with 44RR and 14 Bn CRPF cordoned a cluster of houses at village Bata Murran Shopian in the jurisdiction of Police Station Kellar. While the cordon was being laid, hiding militants fired upon the joint search party, ensuing an encounter. The cordon was strengthened and the civilians of nearby area were evacuated.
During the encounter, on the request of family, police made repeated announcement to get Tanveer surrendered, which he ignored.
The militants continued firing on the security forces which was retaliated. Two JeM militants were killed in this encounter who were identified as Tanveer Ahmad from Bata Murran Shopian and Ali @ Qari, a foreign militant. Two AK rifles and other allied ammunition were recovered from the encounter site.
Two security personnel which includes one jawan from 44 RR and a police personnel of Shopian Police were also injured during the encounter. Their condition is stated to be stable.
Moreover, another militant fled from the encounter site by taking advantage of the darkness.
During cross firing one lady identified as Ruby @Beauty wife of Manzoor Ahmad Mir of Bata Marran got critical injured who later on succumbed to her injuries at District hospital Pulwama. Nine civilians were also injured whose condition is said to be stable.
These killed militants were involved in a number of terror incidents including the recent attack on the vehicle of J&K Bank near Poju Shopian on 11th of December 2017 in which two bank guards were killed.
Once the army took the slain foreigner, the scene was dominated by the mourners. There were thousands of them. With two dead bodies in the village, there were separate funeral prayers. At least thrice the funeral prayers were offered to the slain militant, reports confirmed by police said. There were fierce Azaadi sloganeering and even women resorted to traditional Wanwun.
Interesting incident was the sudden appearance of two militants, police said both have been identified and one of them was a police deserter, on the scene. “They fired 6-7 bullets and left,” reports said.
As the police chief Dr S P Vaid wished his bodies “best of luck” for killing the militants, condemnations followed over the killing of the civilian. The separatist triumvirate comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik called for a day long strike on Wednesday over the civilian killings.
“The brutal killings of Misra Bano and Asif Iqbal of Kupwara, Ruby (Beauty) Jan of Shopian and Zahid Ahmad who was killed in Rajasthan India, clearly show that Indian army, occupational forces and police are here only to kill Kashmiris and pro-India politicians are deployed to provide legal shield to these killers,” a statement of the JRL said. “Kashmiris cannot and will never remain silent on this genocide and will observe a total shut down on December 20, 2017 to protest against this growing Indian aggression.”
All others followed.
National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah on Tuesday condemned the killing of a civilian, Ruby Jan in Shopian and expressed grief over the loss of another precious life.
In a statement Omar Abdullah extending his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, prayed for peace to the departed soul and said he stood in solidarity with the family in their moment of inconsolable loss and bereavement.
Denouncing the killing, Jama’at-e-Islami termed it “a well thought design of complete genocide of Kashmiris”. Its spokesman impresses upon the regional and international human rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Committee of Red Cross to take strong measures for the end of unabated bloodshed in Kashmir and bring India into Justice for the crimes it perpetrated upon innocent Kashmiris since 1947.
“Within almost a week, three civilians Asif Iqbal, Ruby Jan and Misra Banu have been killed,” Yasin Khan, the leader of the Kashmir Economic Alliance said. “Such death of dance cannot facilitate restoration of peace. If Chief Minister says that killings won’t resolve Kashmir why do killings continue to take place?”
Expressed solidarity with the bereaved family, Communist leader Yousuf Tarigami sought “a time bound enquiry of the killing so that those responsible are booked under law”.
Meanwhile, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba have, in separate statements, paid tributes to the slain militants. DeM general secretary Nahida Nasreen said the militant killings have sent the whole valley into a state of mourning. A statement quoting Nasreen said “the people of Pakistan have always been at the forefront of the Kashmir freedom struggle and have sacrificed many youth for Kashmiri people. The young boys from Pakistan travel all the way to fight for us and our rights and as such we have an added responsibility to safeguard these sacrifices.”