The clash between government forces and militants in Imam Sahab quarter of Shopian district ended with the killing of three militants. One army soldier was also injured in the gunfight that erupted early this morning when joint columns of of army’s 34 RR, CRPF and SOG launched a cordon-and-search operation at Adkhara village near Imam Sahab.
The slain militants included Lateef Ahmad Dar alias Tiger of Dogripora, Pulwama, Tariq Molvi of Moloo Chitragam and Shariq Ahmad Nengroo of Chotigam Shopian.
They were associated with Hizbul Mujahideen militant group.
A police spokesperson said that an army soldier was also injured during the course of gunfight.
The cordon was thrown following specific information about the presence of some militants.
Sources said that one residential house was damaged completely and two others suffered partial damage.
Hundreds of residents from different areas gathered at the encounter site to express their support for the trapped militants. They clashed with forces personnel raising pro freedom and anti India slogans. At least 23 protestors suffered pellet injuries fired by the state forces.
One boy Mudassir Ahmad was admitted in the hospital with a bullet injury.
Lateef Ahmad Dar alias Tiger was one of the 11-member group that took the social media by storm when their photograph along with Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani appeared on face book first time in 2015. A resident of Dogripora village in Pulwama, Lateef had joined militant ranks in 2014.
He was one of the close associates of the most popular militant commander Burhan Wani, who was killed in an encounter in July 2016. His death caused a massive street rebellion in the entire valley with tens of thousands of people hitting streets in protest for months together.
Of the 11-member group, Tariq Pandit had surrendered while other died while fighting government forces on different occasions in previous years.
Lateef was the only surviving member of the group.
Lateef along with associate Tariq Molvi, was trapped by government forces early this morning at Adkaer village near Imam Sahab in Shopian following a tip off. As the government forces tried to storm the house, they came under fire from Lateef and his associate. That led to a fierce gunfight.
Reports said that as Tariq engaged government forces in the fight, Lateef broke the cordon and succeeded in fleeing from the site. The forces followed him and trapped him in nearby Malibug village. He was killed after a heavy exchange of fire. At least one soldier reportedly received severe injuries.
Tariq Molvi of nearby Chiragam village had joined militant ranks in 2017.
His father Shamim Ahmad Shiekh also was a militant associated with Hizbul Mujahideen. Tariq was born three months after the death of his militant father in an encounter in 2001.
Several structures including the house militants were hiding in have got damaged during the operation. Reports said that wife of Adkaer house owner suffered heart attack when she knew about the blasting of their house. She was rushed to hospital where her condition is stated to be stable.
Hundreds of residents of different villages gathered near the encounter site to protest against the killing of militants. In the clashes between the protestors and government forces several people are reported to have got injured. Reports said that Mudasir Ahmad, a resident of Wuyan village of Imam Sahab area suffered a bullet injury in his leg following which he was shifted to a hospital for treatment.
Authorities have suspended train and internet service in south Kashmir as a measure to not allow the situation goes out of control.
The killing of top Hizb commanders has come three days before the polling for south Kashmir parliamentary seat in Shopian and Pulwama districts. It is likely to cast its shadow on the voter turnout. The two districts have already been categorized as hyper sensitive by the election commission of India. The killing of Tiger and Molvi has added to the tension and the area is likely to witness a low voter turnout.