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Thousands join funerals of militants in south Kashmir's Shopian

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thousands of people on Tuesday attended the funerals of three slain militants, including top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen in south Kahmir’s Shopian with militants firing in air on the occasion and town observing a shutdown.

Three militants were killed in an encounter at Kellar area of Shopian district with Indian forces Monday night and the slain were later identified as Zahid Ahmad Mir son of Shamim Ahmad resident of Ganowpora Palpora Shopian, Irfan Abdullah son of Mohammad Abdullah Ganie resident of Heff Shopian and Asif Ahmad Paul son of Bashir Ahmad resident of Kathaw Hallan Shopian. Zahid was the commander of Hizb active since 2015.

Thousands of people assembled at the respective villages of the trio to offer funeral. Reports and witnesses said that huge number of mourners including women staged massive pro-freedom and anti-India protests. 

In the wake of the killing of three militants, a complete spontaneous shutdown was observed in Pulwama and Shopian districts. Reports of minor stone-pelting were received from Pulwama Town in the morning but later situation normalized amid a shutdown.

Family members of Zahid told media that he joined militant ranks in July 2015. “On July 18, 2015, he went to college but didn’t come back. On July 22 we received a call from police that Zahid had joined militant ranks,” a close relative of Zahid said.

Ganowpora villagers said that Zahid was a brilliant student who earned a distinction in his Class 12 board exams.

“He was a brilliant student and a down-to-earth guy. He was studying in the second year of BA in Government Degree College Shopian when he left home and joined rebel ranks,” a friend of Zahid said.

The funeral of Zahid was held at the same place where a civilian student’s funeral was recently held. The village graveyard is surrounded by dense apple and walnut orchards. The graveyard was decorated with hoardings and banners featuring active and slain militants of Kashmir.

Irfan Ahmad Ganie was laid to rest at his ancestral village of Heff in the local martyrs’ graveyard. Locals said that Irfan was the eleventh militant buried in the martyrs’ graveyard and that four more militants from the village are currently active.

Four rounds of funeral prayers were attended by about ten-thousand mourners for Irfan.

Irfan’s family members said he was active since 15 months.

A friend of Irfan said that before joining militant ranks, Irfan was studying a masters course through the IGNOU open university.

Irfan has left behind his mother, father, two elder sisters, and brother. He belonged to a well-off family.

Residents of Heff told media that two drone cameras were used by government forces to keep watch over the funeral of Irfan.

Asif Ahmad Paul was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard at Kathalan, which is a predominantly tribal area. His family members said that he joined Hizb this year.

Four rounds of funeral prayers were offered for Asif by about four-thousand mourners. The coffin was decorated with flowers and women were seen crying, beating their breasts to mourn the 19-year-old Asif. Family members said he had studied till the 12th standard. He has left behind his mother, father, two brothers and two sisters.

According to locals of Gattipora village, all the three militants were killed in open fields but despite that, Indian forces set ablaze two cowsheds and damaged private property.

Gattipora village is situated in a hilly, forested area, some 13 kilometres from district headquarters of Shopian.

In the past two months, six militants from Shopian district have been killed in three separate encounters. Hizb operational chief Mehmood Gaznavi was also killed in Shopian.