3 militants killed in Pulwama; thousands attend funeral
Residents clash with forces. In two days of inauguration, special and ordinary train services grounded in Kashmir
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 7: Three local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in an encounter by security forces on Saturday in Pulwama district of South Kashmir where hundreds of residents clashed with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and thousands attended the slain militants’ funeral amid anti-India and pro-Pakistan demonstrations.
Informed sources revealed to STATE TIMES that Special Operations Group (SOG) of Srinagar District Police, in coordination with SOG Awantipora and troops of Rashtriya Rifles 44th battalion, launched a cordon-and-search operation at Punzgam village that falls in Revenue District Pulwama and Police District Awantipora, late on Friday night. According to the specific information available with SOG Srinagar, a group of three young militants of Hizbul Mujahideen was hiding in the village.
In the wee hours on Saturday, the holed up militants opened fire on the troops when they found Army, CRPF and SOG laying a cordon. Troops retaliated and all the three militants got killed with suffering any collateral damage. Three AK rifles were seized beside the bodies.
Officials identified the slain militants as Ashfaq Ahmad Baba S/o Ghulam Hassan Baba R/o Tahab, Ishfaq Ahmad Dar S/o Ghulam Hassan Dar R/o Dogripora and Haseeb Ahmad Pala S/o Ghulam Nabi Pala R/o Brao Bandina. Even as the officials maintained that all the three belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen, some knowledgeable sources insisted that Pala was a militant with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Officials said that Ashfaq and Ishfaq had joined militancy in 2014 while as Pala had joined in 2015.
Sources said that sensing trouble authorities imposed restrictions on the human movement early in the morning in half of Pulwama and Awantipora Police districts to pre-empt massive demonstrations and attacks on Police and security forces. Curfew-like situation prevailed in the whole area for the whole day. Reports said that scores of youths came out on the streets and directed intermittent attacks on a company headquarter of CRPF 184 Bn at Tahab. Police and CRPF exercised restraint and dispersed the crowds with aerial firing and tearsmoke.
Still, around 5,000 people participated in Ashfaq Ahmad Baba’s funeral prayers and procession at Tahab and 3,000 each in the funeral of Ishfaq Ahmad Dar and Haseeb Pala at Dogripora and Brao Bandina. Reports said that the demonstrators shouted anti-India, pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan slogans. At least six demonstrators and paramilitary soldiers sustained injuries. Due to the turbulence, authorities froze all the train services---including the special trains inaugurated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag two days back---on Banihal-Baramulla track in Kashmir.
Officials put the number of the participants in the funeral at Tahab at 1,500. They claimed that lesser number of people attended the slain militants’ funeral at Dogripora and Brao Bandina.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]