A recently-recruited militant from Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen outfit was killed in a brief shootout in Kakapora area of southern Pulwama district late on Wednesday night, the police said.
A bachelor of pharmacy, 24-year-old Showkat Bin Yousuf had joined militancy on October 3 this year and was the first rebel from his native Dangerpora village in Awantipora, Pulwama.
A police official told Greater Kashmir that the army's 50 Rashtriya Rifles and special operations group of Jammu and Kashmir police had laid a naka at Dougam Kakpora at around 11 pm Wednesday.
"A few militants moving through the area were intercepted by the forces at around 11.50 pm. The militants opened fire on the forces, and in the retaliatory action, one of them was killed," the official said, identifying the slain rebel as Showkat Bin Yousuf, son of Muhammad Yousuf Bhat, a resident of Dangerpora. Bhat was associated with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen as its divisional commander.
According to Showkat's family, he left home to submit a form at a university and did not return. The family desperately searched for him until they saw his gun-wielding photo on social media.
"He went missing on October 3 following which we lodged a missing report at police station Awantipora. But few days later, his gun-wielding photos surfaced on social media," a family member said.
Showkat, according to his family, had completed B. Pharmacy degree from the University of Kashmir in 2017.
"He was doing a private job in Bangalore and had come home for vacations," said his brother Aijaz Ahmad, adding: "Showkat was a cool and sober guy. His decision to join militant ranks came as a surprise to the entire village."
Local residents said that Showkat was a brilliant student and had secured distinction in classes 10 and 12.
"He was a first militant from our area," said one of his friends, who wished not to be quoted by name.
The slain militant is survived by his parents, four sisters and an elder brother. His father is a farmer.
At least two back-to-back funeral prayers were held for Showkat, amid sobs and wails. His body was wrapped in a green flag and laid to rest amid pro-freedom and pro-Burhan Wani sloganeering at his ancestral graveyard in Dangerpora on Thursday morning.
At Showkat's residence, everyone was in tears. Hundreds of people visited the bereaved family to express their condolences. His mother and sisters, however, couldn't be consoled by anyone and kept wailing aloud.
Meanwhile, Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TeM) Thursday said that a militant arrested by the police Wednesday night in northern Pattan area had been sent home by the outfit "as he was a very young student."
In a statement, a TeM spokesman said that Faizan Majeed Bhat of Naibugh Tral had joined the outfit few days ago but was asked to go home "in line with the outfit's policy" and asked to continue his studies.