by Saima Bhat
SRINAGAR: It was a bloody Wednesday when six Kashmiris: two militants and four policemen, returned their homes, dead. The two separate incidents took place in one day at two different places separated by almost 60 kms.
The gloomy day started quite early from Muniward area of Anantnag (Islamabad) where a gunfight broke out between a mixed contingent of the army, CRPF and the state police and militants during wee hours.
The encounter concluded with the killing of two local militants as around 60 locals were injured in the clashes that erupted around encounter site and in the Qaimoh area.
It was almost 5.25 am when the first fire was exchanged and it ended around 9.35 am with the killing of two militants. The slain duo belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit.
They were identified as top Hizb Commander Altaf Ahmad Dar alias Altaf Kachroo resident of Redwani Kulgam, a close aide of Yasin Itoo alias Ghaznavi and Umar Rashid Wani of Khudwani, who reportedly escaped from Batamaloo in Srinagar. Before escaping from the cordoned spot, they killed a cop and left four others injured, police sources said.
The Muniward encounter took place in the newly constructed single storey house of Altaf Ahmad Dar, who is a mason by profession. The house was completely razed to the ground, witnesses said.
“Both the militants Altaf and Umar came to our house at 11.30 pm,” Dar’s wife had informed media persons in the area. “They told us they will leave as soon as they dress the wounds of Umar, who was injured in some cordon. But around 2.30 am I along with my toddler daughter went outside to use washroom but I saw the whole area was cordoned. As soon as I was back home, I informed my husband about it. And then the encounter started in the morning.”
Reportedly militant Altaf had called his family around 3 am and informed them that he was caught in the encounter.
Altaf was an orphan who joined militancy in 2008. “In 2007 he was arrested at least thrice for stone pelting incidents,” one of his neighbors said. “He was later detained under PSA and during his term in jail he completed his graduation.”
After his release, he joined Hizb militant outfit. “His father was also a Hizb militant who was killed in 1992 while crossing over to the other side of the border.”
Altaf, a A++ category militant, was known in his locality as the ‘cordon breaker’. He had survived at least 10 cordons, police sources suggest.
After Altaf’s funeral prayers, reportedly he was offered gun salute twice jointly by the Hizb and LeT militant groups. All his three funerals were hugely-attended.
Another militant Umar, who was killed in the Muniward encounter, before joining militancy was also arrested and kept in jail for more than one year. He had joined militancy recently, almost five months ago.
Umar’s two funerals were well-attended, after which he was also offered gun salute by his fellow militants.
As the encounter was over, clashes were reported from Qaimoh and Khudwani areas. The two villages are the biggest in Kulgam district. Reportedly tear gas and pellets were fired at the protestors.
In the initial clashes, three civilians were injured: Javed Ahmad Dar, Tauseef Ahmad Dar and Abid Rashid – all three residents of Muniward. Around five cases of pellet injured were referred to Srinagar hospital for advanced treatment and rest of around 60 patients were treated in local hospitals.
Dr Salim Tak, medical superintendent SMHS, told Kashmir Life, “We have received five pellet eye injured cases. All of them have pellets in their one eye. A few of them have multiple injuries.” He did not speak further and hung up the call. Sources in the hospital identified the five pellet hit in eyes as Sameer Ahmad (left eye), Faisal Ahmad (right eye), Mehboob Ali Bhat, Nisar Ahmad, and Yawar Khurshid. Mehboob Ali was injured when 1-RR garrison in Khudwani belt was attacked by stone pelters and police used pellets.
At least three houses around the encounter site were damaged partly in the encounter.
The train services were also suspended in south Kashmir as a precautionary measure. But trains continued to chug on Srinagar-Budgam track in central Kashmir to Baramulla in north Kashmir as per schedule.
Police and government forces jointly launched search operation today early morning at Muniward area of Khanabal. During the searches, militants fired on the search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter.
In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed. The killed terrorists were identified as Altaf Ahmad Dar @Kachroo @ Moin of Hawoora Mishipora and Umar Rashid Wani of Khudwani Kulgam.
Altaf Ahmed Dar @ Kachroo @ Moin son of Late Ghulam Mohammad Dar resident of Hawoora, Mishipora District Kulgam was currently operating as a one of the most important militant Commander of proscribed militant outfit HM. He had a long history of criminal records since 2007.
Considered as a long time surviving militant in the area, he was involved in a series of militant crimes in the area. He was involved in several attacks on the security forces and killings of civilians and policemen in the area.
Several cases were registered against him in different police stations across the valley for his militant activities. Some of the prominent cases include rifle snatching from policemen at Yaripora BSNL Tower. FIR No 208/7 under section 307, RPC, 7/27, Arms Act; FIR No 226/2010 under section 20 ULA (P) Act; FIR No 239/2010 under section 307,RPC 7/27 Arms Act; FIR No 15/2010 under section 307, 392 RPC 7/25 Arms Act in PS Yaripora; FIR No 21/2011 under section 7/25 Arms Act P/S Zadibal Srinagar; FIR No 174/15 under section 307, 392 RPC , 7/25 Arms Act PS Kulgam etc.
Pertinently during the 2016 unrest h,e along with Yasin Itoo @Gaznavi played a major role in instigating people.
Umar Rashid Wani son of Abdul Rashid Wani resident of Khudwani Kulgam became active since last year. He was involved in many civilian atrocities and attacks on security establishments. He was also involved in the killing of policemen at Islamabad. Further, in Srinagar city, Umar had carried an attack on CRPF and also escaped from the recent Batamaloo encounter site.
The spokesman said that several cases were registered against him including 145/17 under section 302, 7/27 Arms Act of Police Station Islamabad in which two JKP cops were martyred and 173/18 under section 302, 307, 34 RPC, 7/27 Arms Act, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20 ULA of Police Station Batamaloo. Though this group was a part of HM module they had worked in close coordination with other proscribed militant outfits.
Some arms and ammunition were also recovered from the site of the encounter.
A police spokesperson said that police has registered a case in this regard and the investigation has been initiated in the instant matter.
The Shopian Killings
Almost 60 kms away, militants attacked a police party in Arhama area of Shopian killing four cops on the spot. They were two constables, one SPO, and a driver. At least three of them were part of the escort of Dysp Hqrs and driver of the vehicle and they had gone to repair the vehicle.
The slain included CT Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, son of Abdul Aziz Mir, resident of Watergam, Dangiwacha, CT Mohammad Iqbal Mir, son of Abdul Rahim Mir, resident of Hardu Chanam Rohoma in Rafiabad, CT Javid Ahmad Bhat, son of Nazir Ahmad Bhat, resident of Panzinara in Sumbal, and SPO Adil Manzoor Bhat, son of Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, resident of Zawoora Shopian.
“It is the main vehicle repairing market in town and usually the cops would be seen repairing their vehicles,” a resident from Shopian said. “Though on the highway, it is shrouded in dense apple orchards and has multiple accesses.” The incident took place at around 4 pm.
Quickly, the counterinsurgency grid moved to the spot and for many hours they scanned every inch of the orchards in all directions. They, however, could not trace anything.
Later State Police Chief S P Vaid and Additional DG law and order Munir Khan drove to the town and were part of a wreath-laying event that took place in DPL, Batpora. There, a relative of the slain SPO said his family is now a literal destitute because they have lost the only source of income.
Meanwhile, the official sources confirmed to Kashmir Life that the militants after carrying out the attack decamped with three weapons. Some reports even claimed that a video showed the weapons.
Later in the evening, militant outfit Jaish claimed to be responsible for the Shopian attack. In a statement to a local news agency, they said its cadres along with Hizbul Mujahideen carried out the fatal attack that left four policemen dead on the spot.
Militants in the afternoon hours today fired indiscriminately upon a police party at Arhama in district Shopian.
In this incident, four cops sustained gunshot wounds and were evacuated to nearby hospital for medical attention.
However, all the four injured policemen succumbed to their injuries.
The slain policemen were identified as Constable Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, Constable Javaid Ahmad Bhat, Constable Mohammad Iqbal Mir and SPO Adil Manzoor Bhat.
Police have registered a case and initiated investigations in the instant matter.
Other than the encounter and attack, one more civilian was injured by Army’s 34 RR stationed at Behibagh Camp when they fired upon a youth namely Mudassir Fayaz son of Fayaz Ahmad Thokar resident of Kadder Kulgam. He had a bullet injury on his shoulder. “He was riding on a motorcycle and asked by the army to stop which he didn’t,” said an official.
-with inputs from Shah Hilal from Islamabad.