Srinagar, Mar 05: A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir against the killing of four civilians and two militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
The Valley woke up on Monday morning to the reports of two more bodies recovered close to the shooting site, taking the toll in the shootout, which took place on Sunday evening, to six.
The body of Gowhar Ahmad Lone, 24, of Molu Chitragam, Shopian, was found around 250 meters away from the site at Pahnoo. Lone was found dead behind the steering wheel of a car.
A postgraduate student in in Physical Education at Nagpur University in Maharashtra, Lone had multiple bullet injuries.
The second body was identified to be of LeT militant Ashiq Hussain Bhat, of Rakpora Kapran in the district.
His body was found in an orchard at Saidpora, a few kilometres away.
Ashiq, as per army, was active since November last year and was a category-B militant.
On Sunday evening, at around 8:30 pm, army, as per their spokesman, claimed killing a militant in “retaliatory fire” after he “fired upon their joint Mobile Vehicle Check Post near Pohan (Pahnoo)”.
At the same time, the photo of the slain militant in a pool of blood also went viral, showing the army men surrounding his body.
However, later at 9:40 pm, another statement from the army spokesman said: “A joint Mobile Vehicle Check Post near Pohan (Shopian) was fired upon by militants at 2000hrs (8 PM) from a vehicle. In retaliatory firing, one militant identified as Shahid Ahmad Dar S/o Mushtaq Ahmad Dar R/O Jamnagri, Shopian was killed and a weapon has been found with him. Also the three OGWs/ accomplices in the car who were accompanying the militant were found to be dead.”
It was not confirmed why army, who had killed the militant more than an hour ago, could not confirm about the rest of the deaths in their first press statement if all of them took place at once.
The slain militant was identified by police as Aamir Ahmad Malik of Harmain, Shopian.
The three civilians were identified as Suhail Khaleel Wagay of Pinjoora, Muhammad Shahid Khan of Malikgund and Shahnawaz Ahmad Wagay of Trenz, all from Shopian.
On Monday, the army spokesman, in a fresh statement said that “at 7 pm on Sunday, they had deployed a mobile vehicle check (MVCP) post along Trenz-Pinjoora road near Pahnoo.
“At around 8 pm in the evening, two speeding vehicles were seen approaching the MVCP location from the direction of village Trenz. The stops deployed, signaled the vehicles to stop, however both the vehicles continued to move. At this point, when a search light was flashed towards the approaching vehicles, heavy firing came from both the vehicles,” the army spokesman said.
Troops, the spokesman continued, responded with fire.
“In the ensuing ‘gunfight’, one militant firing from one of the vehicles was hit and he fell off the vehicle and the vehicle veered off the road towards the nala and the second vehicle sped off,” he added.
Later during the search, the spokesman said, “The body of a militant was recovered, who was identified as Amir Ahmad Malik”, as against some “Shahid Ahmad Dar” the spokesman had claimed on Sunday.
Malik, as per the spokesman, was part of Lashkar-e-Toiba and active since July 2017.
The army claimed recovering one AK-74, 3 magazines and 88 rounds from the dead militant.
“Three more dead bodies were found in the vehicle during the search. These individuals were accompanying the militant,” the spokesman added, not identifying them as OGWs as was done on Sunday.
The second vehicle that sped away during the shootout, as per the spokesman, was found Monday morning near Pinjoora.
“One more individual, Gowhar Ahmad Lone, was found dead,” army said.
Funerals amidst shutdown, restrictions
Kashmir witnessed a complete shutdown on Joint Hurriyat’s call even as authorities had imposed severe restrictions in several areas of the city and other districts in the south of Kashmir.
Clashes erupted at several places in Kashmir between protesters and the government forces.
Mobile Internet service was snapped in twin districts of Shopian and Pulwama in south Kashmir while high-speed service was suspended across the Valley.
Thousands of people on Monday participated in funerals of the four civilians and two militants in Shopian.
At Malikgund, thousands participated in at least eight rounds of funeral prayers held for slain youth Muhammad Shahid Khan, amid pro-azadi and pro-Islam slogans.
Similar scenes were witnessed in other funerals as well.
Militants offered a gun salute to their slain colleague Ashiq Hussain Bhat in Rakh Kapran village.