A militant and his ‘active’ associate were killed in a brief shootout with security forces at a village in this south Kashmir district late Sunday night, police said.
A police official told Greater Kashmir that two militants and their ‘active’ associate, who were travelling in a Tavera cab jumped a check-post set up by Army’s 44 RR at Moolu Chitragam village at around 11 PM on Sunday.
He said, “The militants opened fire on the soldiers after the latter challenged them. The fire was returned by the soldiers at full throttle, leading to a shootout.”
“The shootout, which lasted for a few minutes, ended with the killing of two militants (1 militant and his active associate),” said the official, adding that the third militant managed to escape.
The deceased were identified as Firdose Ahmad Bhat of Panowah, Kulgam and Sajad Ahmad of Wanpora, Kulgam.
The official said that Sajad driving the cab when the shootout took place.
However, the family of Firdose expressed ignorance about his joining the militant ranks, while Sajad, according to local residents, was a cab driver.
“Firdose was a preacher and was running a small Darasgah cum Yateem Trust in the locality,” said his brother Gulzar Ahmad, alleging that the security forces would harass him day in day out for past five years.
Gulzar said that on 5 April 2019 the security forces raided the house of Firdose and tried to apprehend him, however, local residents clashed with the forces and helped him get away.
“Since then he went missing. We don’t have any idea if he had signed up for any militant group,” he said.
People at the native village of Sajad told Greater Kashmir that the deceased was a driver and was seen at his village Sunday evening before he left his home with a vehicle.
SSP Kulgam, Gurinderpaul Singh said that Firdose was on the run for a year and was wanted by police, “for he would deliver the provocative sermons”.
“In April, he, however, joined the Hizbul Mujahideen formally along with another resident Irfan Ahmad, now slain” Singh said.
A police official at Kulgam, who did not wish to be named, said that Sajad was an Over Ground Worker.
Meanwhile, a police official in statement said the militants boarding the vehicle opened fire from inside on the security forces which was retaliated.
“In the retaliation process one militant identified as Firdous Ahmad Bhat and an active associate Sajad Ahmad who was driving the vehicle got killed. Both of them were the residents of Kulgam. Moreover one militant taking advantage of darkness managed to flee from the spot,” it said.
The statement said that Firdose was a “listed militant”.
“Incriminating material arms and ammunition were recovered from the spot,” he added.
As the bodies of the deceased reached their native village, thousands of mourners converged there to participate in their last rites.
After multiple rounds of funeral prayers, the deceased were laid to rest in their respective ancestral graveyards.
Local residents said that some militants appeared during the funeral prayers of Sajad and offered him a gun salute.
CASO AND CLASHES
Meanwhile, intense clashes erupted during a cordon and search operation in Tarigam village of Kulgam district after bands of young men poured into streets and threw rocks on the forces.
“The forces responded by firing pellets and tear smoke shells to scare away the stone-throwing youth,” an official said.
He said the searches were carried out following the inputs about the presence of militants in the area.
He said the operation, however, was called off as no militant was found in the area.