Srinagar: Three militants were gunned down by the forces in Mujgund, on the outskirts of Srinagar, after an 18-hour long gun battle on Sunday. Among the slain militants was 14-year-old Mudasir Rashid Parray of Bandipora district, whose photo holding an AK-47 surfaced a week ago. The trio, according to the police, were planning a big attack in the city.
Parray had reportedly gone missing from his home August 31, soon after a gunfight in his neighborhood in north Kashmir’s Hajin. Hajin has been the erstwhile bastion of militant-turned-government militia, Ikhwan.
The other two militants were identified as Saquib Bilal (17), also a resident of Bandipora district, and a Pakistani militant, Ali Bhai. Parray’s partially charred body was later recovered from the encounter site.
One of the militant was shifting from one house to another, which was creating confusion among forces, a police official said.
Security forces used explosives to kill the holed-up militants in the night-long gun battle. Seven houses were subsequently damaged, out of which four have been razed to the ground.
Tale of Destruction
“Forces surrounded our house and began searching at around 5 pm on Saturday,” said Gulam Nabi, a resident whose house has been completely damaged. “The forces left after they found nothing. But they came again after few minutes and we were asked to leave,” Nabi added.
The gunfight began after the militants fired upon the search party, the police said. An army soldier also received injuries and was shifted to the hospital for treatment.
In Mujgund’s Fishermen Colony, seven houses have been damaged. Burnt books of children and charred clothes lay in the rubble of these houses. The residents say they didn’t know militants were hiding in the neighborhood.
“We didn’t know militants were hiding here,” said Ghulam Nabi.
At the time of the gunfight, cattle were in Ghulam Nabi’s courtyard and a cow was hit by bullets. It was shifted to a local veterinary hospital for treatment.
“We were fleeing to another neighborhood when the firing started,” said Javed Ahmad, a resident. “The fire exchange went on throughout the night. Shells were fired on the houses,” he added.
Rafeeqa Banu, 35, was feeding her six-months-old son, when the search operation began. She left the food there and took her son and two daughters out.
“We were asked to leave. I ran with my son and two daughters when the gunshots began,” said Rafeeqa.
When she returned to her house the next day, everything had been charred. She wailed over the loss in the corridor of her house.
“I lost everything, the jewellery in the house, the clothes and the utensils,” she said. Her husband, Farooq Ahmad Kachroo, who works as a labourer was out on work when the gunfight erupted.
Farooq Ahmad surrounded by his three children and wife stared at the burnt remains of their house, shocked at the loss of the belongings.
Burnt copper vessels, tin trunks were scattered all over the neighborhood, situated on the Srinagar-Bandipora highway.
Over 50 people have been rendered homeless.
During encounters, security forces set ablaze the houses where militants are believed to be hiding. Hundreds of houses have been damaged in Kashmir during the encounters.
This operation was launched over a specific input, a police officer said wishing anonymity, adding that these militants were planning an attack in Srinagar.
“These militants were going for an attack in Srinagar city,” another top police official said. A few days ago, an over ground worker (OGW) was arrested in Batamallo area of Srinagar. A police officer said that he was working for the militants to launch an attack in the city.
The seven houses suffered damage because of the movement of the militants, the police said.
“As the cordon was launched two militants came out of the house and entered in the surrounding houses,” a police officer said. “It depends on the movement of militants that how operation is to be taken forward. It was because of their movement the operation took so long.”
Rockets were fired and Light Machine Guns (LMG) were used to eliminate the militants.
Police sources said that a major attack in the Srinagar was thwarted by the killing of these militants.
(Author is a Kashmir-based freelance freelance writer)