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Scholar turned militant, associate killed in Nowgam gunfight

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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)


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3 militants killed in Shopian encounter

Slain includes IPS officer’s brother; civilians, forces personnel among injured

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Three militants, including the brother of an IPS officer, were killed and an army soldier wounded in a gunfight in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Tuesday.

Reports said that the gunfight broke out Tuesday morning after a joint party of the army and the state police launched a cordon-and-search-operation in Shirmal village following inputs about the presence of militants.

They said the militants opened fire on the forces after the latter fired several shots towards their hideout located in an orchard in the village.

 

There was a momentary lull before the firefight resumed, leading to the killing of three militants, news agency Global News Service reported.

One army soldier has also sustained injuries during the course of the gunfight, it reported while quoting unnamed sources.

Quoting official sources, news agency GNS said the slain militants included Shamsul Haq Mengnoo son of Mohammad Rafiq Mengnoo, a resident of Draggud village of Shopian district.

Shamsul Haq was pursuing Bachelors of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) at government college Zakura when he joined militancy. His elder brother Inamul Haq is 2012 IPS batch officer who is posted in North East.

The identity of the two other militants was being ascertained, police said.

Reports, however, identified the two other slain as Amir Ahmad Bhat (21) son of Late Abdul Aziz Bhat of Chadipora, Shopian and Shuaib Ahmad Shah (19) son of Ghulam Rasool Shah of Zahapora, Shopian.

The slain, as per reports, were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit and were involved in a number of attacks in the southern district.
After conducting all necessary formalities, the bodies of the trio were later in the evening handed over to their families for last rites, reports said.

They added that at least seven persons were injured in clashes near the site of the encounter at Heff Shirmal as government forces resorted to tear gas shelling and pellet firing.

Later in the day, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched jointly by police and other forces in Shirmal area of

Zainapora in Shopian area after credible inputs about the presence of militants.“As the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the militants. The fire was retaliated leading to a gunfight. In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were recovered from the site of encounter. Their identities and affiliations are being ascertained,” the spokesperson said.

He added that it was a difficult operation due to the terrain and there were clashes in the area which was handled by the government forces.

“Only five cases of injuries were reported and three of them were discharged after preliminary medical attention. Separately six security forces personnel injured during the clashes have been discharged after medical attention,” the spokesperson said.

Police, he said, has registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.

 

Shamsul met ‘sad end’ despite his IPS brother’s efforts: Ex-DGP

Srinagar, Jan 22: Former Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Shesh Paul Vaid on Tuesday said that Hizb militant Shamsul Haq met a “sad end” despite efforts by his IPS officer brother to bring him back.
Taking to Twitter soon after the news of his killing in Shopian gunfight started doing the rounds, Vaid, who was the director general of police in J&K when Haq turned to militancy, said: “I remember the efforts that were made by his (Haq’s) brother /other family members and J&K Police to bring him back to mainstream but he met a sad end today.”
Haq, brother of IPS officer Inam ul Haq, was killed along with his two associates in a gunfight in Shirmal village of Shopian.

Militants killed in Budgam affiliated with Al Badr: Police

Srinagar, Jan 22: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said the three militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Tuesday were affiliated with Al Badr militant outfit.
In a statement, a police spokesman said that the slain militants were identified as Sabzar Ahmad son of Ali Mohammad Mir resident of Lassipora Pulwama, Syed Rabani son of Mohammad Hussain resident of Nazneenpora Shopian and Towseef Ahmad Itoo son of Abdul Aziz resident of Nowpora Payeen Pulwama.
The slain militants, he said, were affiliated with proscribed outfit Al-Badar and were wanted by the law.
“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for the purpose of investigation,” he said.
Bodies of the slain militants were handed over to their families after completion of medico-legal formalities, he added.
The three militants were killed after a daylong gunfight in Hapatnar forests on Tuesday.

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4 photojournalists injured in pellet firing: Reporters without Borders, KEG condemn incident

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Four photojournalists were hit by pellets while covering the Tuesday’s gun battle in Shopian district.

The injured included Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi, Rising Kashmir‘s Nisar ul Haq, and Junaid Gulzar and Mir Burhan, both working with local publications.

Andrabi had six pellet wounds in his face and neck, narrowly missing his eyes.

 

Reports said the photojournalists were walking towards the encounter site in Shopian when they came across a blockade put up by the protesting youth.

Government forces and locals were engaged in violent clashes around the same area where the journalists were present.

“At some distance, the police and CRPF parties were holding their position as stone pelting had begun. I raised my camera to show that we were photojournalists and out of nowhere, we were showered with pellets,” Andrabi told The Wire.

Andrabi was hit with six pellets, including on his lips, forehead and neck.

The incident prompted statements of condemnation from all major journalist bodies in Kashmir.

Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) termed the incident as a brutal, murderous assault on photojournalists by security forces.

“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties. The association urges the governor Satya Pal Malik and director general of police Dilbag Singh to personally look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring cops,” the association said

The Kashmir Press Club said “It is not the first time such an incident has happened. Most unfortunate that journalists are made a targeted when they are only performing their duties. It is appalling that pellets were fired at them”.

Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA) and Kashmir National Television Journalist Association also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian and asked state’s governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those responsible.

“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets. KVJA appeals to governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those who are involved in today’s incident and make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future”.

Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in Shopian.

In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’

“Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.

“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) too strongly condemned the use of pellets against a group of journalists.

“This is not for the first time that the law enforcing agencies have used force against the media persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. This has become a routine,” a KEG spokesman said.

He added that every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.

“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” the spokesman said.

KEG demanded a quick and time bound investigation into the incident and action against the personnel found guilty.

“The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in 21st century,” the spokesman said.

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Srinagar youth hit with stone ‘hurled by CRPF’

Admitted to SKIMS with fractured skull; CRPF spokesman claims ‘youth fell down’

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Srinagar, Jan 22: A youth from Habba Kadal locality of Srinagar was hospitalised in a serious condition after a stone allegedly hurled by CRPF trooper hit his head on Tuesday afternoon.

Family sources said the boy identified as Mohammad Younis had left home to buy some vegetable, however, a CRPF trooper hurled a stone from the bunker located near Habba Kadal, resulting in serious head injuries to the boy.

Soon after the incident, the injured was rushed to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, from where he was referred to SKIMS, Soura.

 

Medical Superintendent SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan, as per a local news agency KNO, said that “parietal bone of the youth had fracture and the bone fragment has sneaked into the skull, leading to contusions.”

He also said that CT scan of the patient will be repeated to ascertain the damage. He, however, maintained that they are monitoring his condition as of now.

Meanwhile, CRPF spokesman, Sanjay Sharma, as per news agency KNO, said a group of five to six youth started pelting stones at the bunker and while chasing them away, a youth “slipped and fell down”.

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