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Scholar turned militant, associate killed in Nowgam gunfight

Srinagar, Oct 24: Two Hizb militants were killed in an encounter that raged between forces and militants in Wanbal are of Nowgam in the outskirts of Srinagar, police said.

The slain militants were identified as scholar turned militant Sabzar Sofi and Asif Ahmad Gojri – both residents of Anantnag.

The forces in the outskirts of Srinagar launched a cordon and search operation today morning based on credible input about the presence of the militants, police said, adding that during search operation, militants fired upon the search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Range, Swayam Prakash Pani in this morning had confirmed that two militants were killed in Nowgam gunfight, saying that the encounter site was being cleared. He said there was no collateral damage in the operation.

Police said that the two killed militants were identified as Sabzar Ahmad Sofi and Asif Ahmad Shergojiri. Both were affiliated with HM.

Earlier, police had appealed people not to enter the gunfight site as such an area can prove dangerous due to un-cleared, appealing people to cooperate with police till area will be sanitized.

“In reference to Nowgam encounter, citizens are requested not to enter the encounter site as such an area can prove dangerous due to uncleared explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized,” Kashmir one Police tweeted.

Police in a statement issued said Sabzar Ahmad Sofi, son of Bashir Ahmad Sofi of Naina Sangam in district Anantnag had joined militant ranks in year 2016 and was involved in several attacks on security establishments and many other civilian atrocities in district Anantnag.

Police said that incriminating materials including arms & ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. “Police has registered a case and investigation has been initiated,” the statement added.

After wrapping up the operation, recovering the dead bodies of the militants and Arms and ammunition, the operational parties took security precautions with regard to sanitization of the area, police said.
Clashes also broke out between youth and forces near the gunfight site in Nowgam here.
Witnesses said that the youth took to streets and threw stones at police and paramilitary trooper deployed around the gunfight site, who in retaliation used tear gas canisters to disperse the agitating youth.

Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of slain militant Dr Sabzar Sofi

The funeral of Sabzar was held just few hundred meters on Srinagar-Jammu highway in which people in large number participated and chanted pro-freedom slogans, reports said, adding that scores of militants also appeared in the funeral prayer of Sabzar and offered him a gun salute at his native Sangam area of Bijbehara in south Kashmir.
Clashes also broke out in Sangam area in this morning after the news about Sabzar’s death spread. Several protesters were injured in the clashes, reports said.
Meanwhile, soon after the gunfight ended, the district administration Srinagar ordered closure of schools and colleges for a day.
As a precautionary measure, the class work at all the schools and colleges in Srinagar has been suspended for a day, officials said.
Besides, in view of the prevailing situation, the class work at Kashmir University also remained suspended on the orders of varsity officials.
The decision has been taken to avoid law and order situation in the varsity, said a spokesman.
Meanwhile, the mobile internet services in Srinagar were suspended on this morning soon after the gunfight broke out between forces and militants in Nowgam area of Srinagar.
The cellular companies suspended the mobile internet services here in view of security reasons.
Earlier on Tuesday, the mobile internet speed was reduced to 2g, which was restored later in the evening.
Thousands of mourners participated in the last rites of scholar turned Hizb militant Dr Sabzar Sofi at his native Naina village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Dr Sabzar Sofi alias Dr Saifullah Khalid along with his associate Asif Ahmed Shergujri were killed in a gun fight with government forces at Wanabal Nowgam area in the outskirts of Srinagar city.
Reports said that thousands of mourners from his village and adjoining areas rushed to Naina to participate in the last rites of slain militant Sabzar Ahmed. Reports added that a group of at least six armed militants appeared at funeral procession who fired dozens of rounds in air to pay tribute to the departed slain militant.
An eyewitness told that the group of militants was led by Hizb top commander Zeenat-ul-Islam. He added that mourners mostly youth amid pro-freedom and pro-Zeenat-ul-Islam slogans encircled the militants. Militants according to eyewitness fire some shots to disperse the crowd. “A couple of people felt unconscious and were shifted to nearby hospital,” he added.
It has become a norm in Kashmir for militants to appear in their colleagues funerals. The militants not only give gun salute but also address mourners.
Eyewitnesses said that the slain militant was laid to rest amid pro-freedom slogans. Reports from Khiram-Sirham-native village of another slain militant Asif Ahmed Shergujri, people in large numbers participated in his funeral procession.

Who was Sabzar?

Srinagar, Oct 24: Sabzar, a highly qualified youth from South Kashmir, who was killed in a gun fight along with his associate Asif Shergujricomes from lesser known village of Naina and was one of the scores of educated youth who have joined militancy post the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
After the killing of Burhan Wani, Kashmir witnesses unprecedented violent protest. Scores of people suffered eye injuries and over 100 people were killed. In such circumstances, 31-year old Sabzar Ahmad Sofi left his home for Delhi to join classes at Jamia Milia Islamia University where he was pursuing PhD in his “favorite subject” Botany and never returned.
Sabzaar from Naina, Sangam in Anantnag, had completed his MSC from Burkhatulla University in 2013-14 and M.Phil from Jivagee University Gwalior before joining Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi in 2016. Sabzar also qualified NET, JRF and started coaching for IAS. The family bid him goodbye hoping he would fly to New Delhi. For next three months his father could not establish any contact with him owing to communication blockade in the Valley. However in October 2016 the family was shocked to know that Sabzar, instead of flying to Delhi, has joined the militancy.
“We had never expected that he will leave us without any information. We tried to contact him but all in vain,” said his father adding that Sabzar was an upright and honest who would always help the students of the locality and encourage them to pursue higher studies.
Sabzar started his own coaching centre (Acent) in his native place for some time where he imparted education to poor students of the area. He did his MSc in Botany from Barkatullah University Bhopal before completing his M.Phil from Gwalior. Instead of completing PhD he had joined militancy and it was his own decision.
A missing report filed by family still stands registered at Bijbehara Police Station. According to family, it was a police official who visited their house and informed that Sabzar has joined militancy. “We didn’t believe first, but we lost the hope when few days later, a group of army soldiers knocked at our doors and showed us a video in which Sabzar could be seen along with a group of militants brandishing a gun in his hand.”
Sabzar is survived by his parents, two brothers and a sister. His brothers and sister are also well educated.
One of his relatives said that he failed to understand how Sabzar picked up the gun. “He was so shy and innocent who hardly talked to anyone. He never discussed Kashmir situation with anyone. As far as I know him, Sabzar wanted to achieve something in his life. He wanted to do something for his family and society,” the relative said.(CNS)