Langate Encounter: The Complete Story

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by Saima Bhat

SRINAGAR: It was a gloomy day for the north Kashmir which witnessed the burial of three bodies.

The day started with an encounter that ended up with the killing of two militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit in a gunfight with the government forces in Langate area.

Slain Militant Liyaqat Ahmad lone a resident of Harwan village of Sopore.

The gunfight began during wee hours as the army’s 30 RR, 92 bn CRPF, and state police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) launched a cordon and search operation in Galoora (Langate) after receiving specific input about the presence of militants in the area, an official said.

He said that the search operation turned into a gun battle as the militants fired upon the search party of the counter-insurgent forces who retaliated and in the ensuing gunfight, two militants were killed.

An army officer said that the gunfight started after a cordon-and-search operation was launched in the village at around 2:30 am following specific information about the presence of some militants. He also said arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.

The slain militants were identified as Liyaqat Ahmad, son of late Ghulam Mohidin Lone, a resident of Harwan in Bomai Sopore and Furkaan, 18, from Langate area in Handwara.

A local police officer told Kashmir Life over the phone that Liyaqat had joined militant ranks on July 08, 2018, on the second anniversary of Hizb commander Burhan Wani.

Before joining militancy, Liyaqat, a seasonal fruit businessman and an occasional carpenter, was released on bail under a case of “kidnapping and rape of a minor girl of his locality.” A local station officer said, “For two months almost he was absconding and later we came to know that he was in Punjab. We arrested him,  presented before the court and he was challaned. He later came out on bail.”

Liyaqat had married Rubeena from the same locality and they have three kids with the eldest daughter of around nine years of age. He is now survived by his old mother, wife, three kids, two sisters, of whom one is married and another was getting married today. The arrival of the body bag turned the marriage ceremony into instant mourning. His sister was going to her in-laws today but it was cancelled. Interestingly, his brother, also a carpenter, was married yesterday.

As per police sources, Liyaqat was also arrested in 2016 for his involvement in ‘stone pelting cases and for providing lodging of militants.’ He had crossed over to Pakistan administered Kashmir in 2001 for arms training and was arrested by Army 30-RR and SOG in Baramulla in 2004. He remained under detention for six months. It was alleged that he had surrendered before forces.

Liyaqat’s body was buried in local martyrs graveyard at Harwan Zainageer after his Nimaaz-e- Jinazah was offered by a few thousand people.

Another militant, Furkaan Rashid Lone, alias Adil Bhaya, had joined militant ranks on May 13, 2018. He was the son of Abdul Rashid Lone and a resident of Langate.

Slain militant Furkaan Rashid Lone.

Reportedly he was a class twelfth student when he joined militant ranks and had a few FIR’s in the local police station for stone pelting related incidents but was never arrested by police, said the local SHO.

Furqaan’s funeral was also well attended. After the encounter was over, protests broke out in Langate area after the news of the killing of a local militant spread in the area. Scores of the people from Galoora and its adjoining areas hit the streets and staged a protest.

The authorities also suspended the mobile internet service in parts of Handwara. The district administration Kupwara also decided to suspend classwork today in GDC Handwara and all Higher Secondary Schools of Mawar and Langate zones as a precautionary measure.

As the last reports came in stone pelting was going on at various places in Handwara.

Police version

Police on Tuesday claimed to have killed two militants identified as Furqan Rashid Lone, alias Adil and Liyaqat Ahmad Lone, alias Sahaba and Umar Khalid.

The spokesman said that Furqan Rashid Lone alias Adil son of Abdul Rashid, a resident of Shartpora, Langate was affiliated with LeT. He was wanted in a number of criminal cases registered at Police Station Handwara: FIR No. 271/2016 U/S 148, 149, 307, 436, 332 RPC of Police Station Handwara; FIR No.334/2016 U/S 148,149,307,436, 332 RPC of Police Station Handwara; FIR No.357/2017 U/S 120RPC, 18 ULA of Police Station Handwara.

Liyaqat Ahmad Lone alias Sahaba alias Umar Khalid, son of Ghulam Mohi-u-din Lone, a resident of Harwan, Sopore and affiliated with LeT. He had a long history of involvement in militancy-related activities and was wanted in a number of criminal cases FIR No. 45/2016 under section 18b, 20 ULA of Police Station Bomia; FIR 81/2017 under section 363, 376 RPC of Police Station Bomai regarding kidnapping and rape of a minor local girl.

Liyaqat along with other LeT militants  Gani Khawaja resident of Kralgund and Majid Mir resident of Nowpora Sopore is involved in case of FIR No.70/2018 under section 307 RPC, 7/27 Arms Act of Police Station Bomai regarding the murder of Hakim-ur-Rehman Sultani resident of Bomai on August 09, 2018.

Lashkar Statement

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Mehmood Shah has denied that one of the militants killed in Handwara encounter was behind the killing of Hakeem-ur-Rehman while accusing the police of carrying out the murder of the Hurriyat activist, a local news gathering agency GNS said.

He also paid tribute to militants killed in the gunfight with government forces at Langate Handwara and said the slain were not part of LeT but belonged to “our brethren parties”.

A spokesperson of LeT Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi in a statement issued here quoted Mehmood Shah as saying that “police is responsible behind the ruthless murder of Hakeem-ur-Rehman Sultani.”

“They (police) cannot hide their black deeds. The Modi regime has planned for state-wide terrorism keeping in view the upcoming 2019 elections in India,” he said.

Lashkar chief in the statement quoted sources as saying that “another target list of 192 personnel has been handed over to forces after the first list of 40 individuals, and Kuka Parray and Ikhwan type agents have been deployed for this plan.”

He asked people to remain cautious and steadfast and repose trust in the Hurriyat leadership. “The unity is the ultimate power of the people,” he said.

Other Funeral

Meanwhile, the area was also mourning the death of Abdul Ahad Ganaie, son of Ghulam Ahmad Ganie, a resident of Telwan Mohalla Lalpora, Lolab who was killed by unidentified gunmen on Monday late evening in his car at Muniwarabad Srinagar.

Slain Teacher Abdul Ahad

Reportedly people from various areas of the district participated in the last rites of Ahad, at his ancestral village.

Ahad has pursued PhD from Aligarh Muslim University and was presently working as a teacher at a private institution in Srinagar. Reportedly his father had sold more than half of his property to pay for his education.

His body was found in the car, Skoda Octavia, with a non-local number plate. He had reportedly left Lalpora some 14-15 years ago and married a local girl in Nigeen Hazratbal. His wife is serving as a lecturer.

Two years ago the deceased had bought a single story residential house at village Mulfaq Hazratbal and was putting up there.

“Ahad had visited Pakistan in December 2016,” a top police officer said. “But before that, he was detained by police on the speculations that he had connections with militancy and separatists but he was not taking part in any activities openly.”

Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen Chief and United Jihad Council (UJC) General Secretary, Sheikh Jameel-ur-Rehman, according to local news gatherer CNS, has condemned the killing of Abdul Ahad Ganaie stating that the killings of Islamic scholars and pro-resistance people won’t frighten Kashmiri people.

Rehman said that this is not the first time that unknown gunmen have been blamed for the killing of well-wishers of Kashmiri resistance. “These unknown gunmen are Indian forces and their agents who are carrying out a massacre of Kashmiris in a planned manner,” he claimed.

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