KL NEWS NETWORK
The 19 hours long gun battle between army, police and rebels in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district ended with the killing of two militants, one of them a Master’s Degree student. It was for the second time in South Kashmir that forces pressed Army choppers into service in civilian area to trace the militants.
In 1991, Indian Army for the first time had pressed Army Choppers into service to trace and neutralize the then Hizb-Ul-Mujahedeen District commander Fayaz Ahmed alias Muhammad Sikandar and his associates in Tumlahal hamlet of the district. For the first time, the Army hurled grenades from the choppers forcing militants to change their locations in the vast paddy fields between Ratnipora and Lajoora in the district.
Locals in a large number resented the action of forces alleging that standing crops and fruit trees were damaged during the gun battle. The protesters amid pro-freedom slogans resorted to heavy stone-pelting making situation tough for the forces.
The gunfight between the two local Lashkar-e-Toiba militants and forces started on Monday evening. The exchange of fire continued for hours. During morning hours on Tuesday, the gun fight restarted when the militants opened fire upon the joint team of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of police and army’s 50, 55 RR to break the cordon that was laid around an orchard in Ratnipora.
Large contingent of Army, police, CRPF and SOG personnel participated in the operation. A police official told CNS that the army personnel stationed at Kakapora, Badamibagh, Khrewshar and Malangam camps along with SOG Pulwama, Kakapora, Newa and Cargo were part of the operation. During the gun fight an SOG man was critically injured.
The operation ended at 2:45 pm of Tuesday. The bodies of two militants were recovered from Rakh Lajoora that were brought to nearby police station. Police sources identified the two local militants as Showkat Ahmed Lone son of Abdul Ahad, a resident of Lelhar Pulwama and Shaheen Gulzar of Telangam Pulwama. “Shaheen had joined LeT a year ago while Showkat who was a wanted militant and was involved in multiple militancy related activities had joined the same outfit one and a year ago. Showkat was involved in Nowgam, Galandar Pampore and other lethal attacks,” said a police official.
Reports said that Saheen Gulzar, the LeT militant was an MSc Student and is survived by his wife and two little children while Showkat had his own automobile workshop.
Massive protests break out before and after the gunfight. Government forces resorted to tear-gas shelling to disperse the protesters. Eye-witnesses said that at least 19 persons were wounded during the violent clashes between protesters and government forces.