Scholar-turned-militant Manan Wani, associate killed in Handwara

Hizb pays tributes; Protests in Kupwara areas; Wani’s death entirely our loss: Mehbooba; No class work in KU, Srinagar colleges and schools today; Educational institutions to remain shut in Bandipora

Altaf Baba
Kupwara, Publish Date: Oct 12 2018 12:54AM | Updated Date: Oct 12 2018 2:34AM
Scholar-turned-militant Manan Wani, associate killed in HandwaraGK Photo

The PhD scholar-turned militant Manan Wani and his associate Ashiq Hussain Zargar were killed in a gunfight with government forces at Shartgund Bala village in northern Handwara area on Thursday morning, triggering protests in several areas of Kupwara district and a Valley-wide shutdown call for Friday by the Joint Resistance Leadership.

A police official said that acting on a tip off, a joint party of J&K police and the army launched a cordon in the village at around 2 am Thursday after inputs about presence of militants there. 

“Initially there was an exchange of fire that got halted till the dawn. With the first light, the firing again resumed in which two militants were killed,” he said. 

Talking to reporters, Kashmir range inspector general of police Swyam Prakash Pani said that two militants killed in Handwara gunfight were identified as Manan Bashir Wani and Ashiq Hussain, both belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen. 

“There was no collateral damage in the operation,” he said. 

Wani, who was pursuing PhD on “structural and geo-morphological study of Lolab valley, Kashmir” at the Aligarh Muslim University had joined militancy in January this year. A photograph in which Wani was seen holding a gun had appeared on social media on January 5, confirming his plunge into militancy. 

Born in a well off family, Wani’s father Bashir Ahmad is a lecturer whose youngest son Mubashir is a junior engineer. 

After his initial schooling at JNV at Manasbal, Wani completed bachelors in geology and earth sciences from the University of Kashmir. Later, he enrolled himself at the AMU where he did his masters and M.Phil in geology. 

He had received an award for best paper presented at an international conference on ‘water, environment, ecology and society’ in 2016. His name figured in the official website of the AMU for this award. 

Meanwhile, residents of Shartgund Bala said that soon after forces cordoned off the area at around 2.15 am, they fired several shots, but there was no response from the trapped militants. 

However, as the dawn broke, the militants fired a volley of bullets towards the forces, resulting in a fierce gun-battle, they said. 

The exchange of fire, according to the locals, stopped for some time, but restarted from 11.15 to 12.15 pm. “After that there was no exchange of fire.” 

Wani’s family was called by the police for identification and later the body was sent to his native place—Tikipora, Lolab. 

As the news of Wani being trapped in the area reached nearby villages, scores of local youth in a bid to break the cordon rushed to the area and started pelting stones at the police and forces. 

However, heavy deployment of police and forces foiled their attempts. 

Police lobbed scores of teargas shells to disperse the agitating youth and also fired pellets on them, injuring many. Two of the injured had received pellets in their eyes. 

Meanwhile, thousands of people at Tikipora Lolab were waiting for the body to arrive on Thursday. As the body reached there at around 5 pm, emotional scenes were witnessed in the area. Women were seen beating their chests and showering petals on the body that was later kept in the large premises of government middle school Tikipora, and laid to rest at a local martyrs’ graveyard. 

 

HIZB PAYS TRIBUTES

Hizbul Mujahideen Thursday paid rich tributes to scholar-turned-militant commander Manan Wani and his associate Ashiq Hussain Zargar who were killed in Shatgund, Handwara.

Local news-gathering agency CNS quoted Hizb’s operational spokesperson Burhanuddin as saying: “The death of highly-qualified youth Manan Wani is very painful and the outfit chief Syed Salahuddin has reiterated that every drop of Manan’s blood will produce thousands of freedom-loving militants.”

Quoting the Hizb chief, Burhanuddin said that people across Kashmir protested and expressed resentment over the killing of Manan Wani. “It shows how people of Kashmir are deeply attached to the ongoing freedom struggle.”

Hizb’s deputy chief Saifullah Khalid and operational field commander Muhammad Bin Qasim, according to the operational spokesperson, expressed grief over the death of Manan Wani and said that “struggle will continue till objective is attained.”  

Another local news agency KNS quoted a Hizb spokesman as saying in a statement that an emergency command council meeting of Hizb-ul-Mujahidden was held under the chairmanship of Syed Salahuddin immediately after the death of Manan Wani and rich tributes were paid to him.

The outfit’s spokesman Saleem Hashmi in an e-mailed statement to KNS quoted Salahuddin as saying: “Not only the gun, the words of Manan Wani had also shaken the rulers in Delhi.” 

“The martyrdom of Manan Wani has pushed Hizb-ul-Mujahideen into a state of shock as the people of great intellect like Manan are very rarely born,” Salahuddin said, according to the statement, adding: “Hizb was fortunate enough to have the association of a man of great intellect like Manan Wani.”

 

WANI’S DEATH ENTIRELY OUR LOSS: MEHBOOBA 

Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said Thursday that Ph.D scholar-turned militant preferring death in an encounter over life “should make political parties realise the gravity of the situation and facilitate dialogue with all stakeholders to end the bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“Today a PhD scholar chose death over life and was killed in an encounter. His death is entirely our loss as we are losing young educated boys every day,” Mehbooba wrote on her Twitter handle. 

“It is high time that all the political parties in the country realise the gravity of this situation and try to facilitate a solution through dialogue with all the stake-holders including Pakistan to end this bloodshed,” she added. 

NO CLASSES AT KU TODAY  

Following Manan Wani’s killing, the University of University decided to suspend class work at its main campus as well as the satellite campuses on Friday.

“Due to prevailing conditions in Kashmir, the class work for October 12 in main campus and satellite campuses shall remain suspended,” a KU notice read. 

An official however said that there will be no change in the examinations scheduled for Friday.

Earlier, the students of KU’s Zakura campus staged a protest against the killing of Manan Wani and his associate and offered funeral prayers in-absentia for the slain militants.

Meanwhile, the administration in Bandipora ordered closure of all educational institutions in the district on Friday. 

“All government educational institutions including degree colleges, private schools /colleges in territorial jurisdiction of district Bandipora shall remain closed on October 12,” said the district magistrate Bandipora.

The class-work shall remain suspended in all schools and colleges of district Srinagar on Friday, official sources told Greater Kashmir. 

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