36-hour Lethpora gunfight ends as 3rd militant killed

36-hour Lethpora gunfight ends as 3rd militant killed

Thousands join funeral prayers of slain militant FardeenKhanday in TralvillageColleagues offer gun-salute| Pulwama observes complete shutdownInternet service remains suspended

The gunfight at Lethpora on Srinagar-Anantnag highway ended on Monday after the body of third militant was recovered, the police said. Two militants and five central reserve police force (CRPF) personnel were killed on Sunday after ‘fidayeen’ (suicide attackers) stormed a CRPF training center at Lethpora at around 2 am.  The third militants, whose body was recovered from the site of the attack on Monday, was believed to be still holed up on Sunday evening, leading to suspension of the anti-militancy operation for the night.

Director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid confirmed the killing of the third militant. “We have recovered the body, which is yet to be identified. No one has claimed the slain militant as of now, although he seems to be a Pakistani,” he said.

Inspector general of CRPF Ravi Deep Sahi said that the operation has ended with the recovery of third militant’s body.

“Three militants and five CRPF soldiers were killed during the 36-hour gun-battle,” he told Greater Kashmir.

THOUSANDS ATTEND FUNERAL OF SLAIN MILITANT

Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of slain Jaish-e-Muhammad militant Fardeen Ahmed Khanday, who, along with his two associates Manzoor Ahmed Baba of DrabgamPulwama and another militant (yet to be identified), was killed after they stormed a CRPF training centre in Lethpora area of Awantipora in Pulwama district on Sunday.

Despite the army and CRPF placed around Tral areas to prevent militants from attending the funeral or offer a gun-salute to Khanday, few militants managed to appear at the funeral and offered the gun-salute to their colleague, a witness said on Monday.

Four back-to-back funeral prayers were held for the slain militant amid pro-freedom and anti-India sloganeering at his native village Nazneepora in Tral. Some local pro-freedom leaders also participated in the funeral and addressed a massive public gathering, the witness said.

Families of local slain militants including AuqibMoulvi, Issac Newton, SabzarBhat and Iqbal Parray also joined the funeral prayers and later visited Fardeen’s house to offer condolences to the bereaved family.

Braving chill, hundreds of people from Awantipora, Pulwama, Lethpora and Aripal areas started arriving in Nazneepora soon after the news about Fardeen’s killing broke out. His body was taken to a local martyrs’ graveyard where thousands of people participated in his last rites, a group of witnesses said.

A large number of people assembled outside his house and chanted pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan slogans, the witnesses said, adding that dozens of women showered rose petals and candies on his body from the rooftops and windows of their homes.

For hours together, hundreds of women were seen outside the martyrs’ graveyard at Nazneepora, weeping amid slogans, even as local masjids reverberated with pro-freedom slogans. His family members including his mother WazeeraBano kissed him for the last time before bidding him the final adieu.

Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed across Pulwama district to mourn the killing of three militants.

All shops and business establishments remain closed while traffic was completely off the roads. Heavy deployment of forces was made at various spots across the town to thwart protests.

As per reports, the traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway however plied smoothly, though contingents of police and paramilitary forces were deployed on the thoroughfare.

Mobile internet and train services remained suspended in southern Kashmir areas “as a precautionary measure to prevent the spreading of rumours,” according to officials.

However, the train service between Srinagar to Budgam and Budgam to Baramulla operated as per schedule, an official said.