Srinagar : Three militants of Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TeM), of which Ehsan Fazili, one among the most wanted in the valley, were killed in a gunfight with forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday night.
As per the emailed statement released by TeM, the three militants were identified as outfit’s “district commander” Muhammad Ehsan Fazili of Srinagar, along with Syed Owais and Sabzar Ahmad Sofi of Anantnag as his “associates”; however, the police claimed to have gunned down Ehsan and Owais, while the third militant’s identity was still “being ascertained” during the day. At around 12:30 am, “pursuing credible leads of the presence of militants” in Anantnag’s Hakoora village, a search operation was held, which led to an exchange of gunshots between the forces and the militants, police spokesman said.
“While the search was going on, the hiding militants fired upon the search party. The fire was retaliated by the security forces ensuring an encounter. In the said encounter, three militants were killed,” the police spokesman said.
The police also claimed that one of the slain militants was involved in a recent attack at a police guard post in Soura area of Srinagar, which had left a constable dead.
Hundreds attended the funeral of Srinagar’s local boy Fazili, a BTech dropout and the son of a college principal, who had joined militancy ranks in August last year.
Amidst shutdown and restrictions imposed by authorities in Anantnag and Srinagar, clashes between the locals and the forces were also reported in several areas.
— ISIS IN KASHMIR? —
Interestingly, eyebrows have been raised over the presence of Islamic States (IS) in the valley, as Fazili, after joining militancy, had released a video preaching IS ideology, calling upon the youth of Kashmir to pick up the guns and “wage a war” against the “infidels”.
Last month, IS had claimed responsibility for an attack on the house of a top Hurriyat leader Fazal Haq Qureshi, where, in a rifle-snatching bid, a constable guiding the residence was shot dead.
“Assassinated an element of police in firing near the city of Srinagar in Kashmir,” Amaq News Agency of the IS had claimed, adding: “The war has just begun.”
A senior official, who wished not to be quoted by name, told The Free Press Journal that considering the recent militancy attacks, the “presence of IS in the valley could be acknowledged”.
“I don’t know how right would it be to say that there could be some influence of the IS in the valley. If you see, TeM’s ideology is inclined to IS,” said the senior official.
“This is not a good sign, to be honest.”
The official also accepted that “the growing recruitment of militancy in Kashmir is worrying”, despite the constant anti-militancy operations conducted by the forces.