Srinagar: In a major success, five Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, including its top commander Saddam Padder and a fresh recruit — a university professor, were killed in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, even as five civilians died during clashes between protesters and law enforcing agencies near the encounter site. The civilian deaths included a 17-year-old.
With Padder’s killing, all the 10 militants who appeared for the first time in a photograph with Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy Burhan Wani in 2015, have been neutralised, officials said.
The picture of the 10 militants in an apple orchard had created a stir in the Valley and they were touted by insurgent groups as ‘Kashmir’s new boys’ who had taken up arms. Of the 10, Padder was the only one alive, the police said. The militant career of Mohammad Rafi Bhat, an assistant professor at Kashmir University, lasted less than 36 hours.
Bhat’s involvement with militancy began sometime late afternoon on Friday and ended after he was trapped in a security forces cordon at Badigam in Shopian late last night, making it the shortest stint in militancy in the state.
Bhat, a resident of Ganderbal district, was a contractual assistant professor in the Sociology department of the university and went missing around 3.30 pm on Friday. He spoke to his mother the last time that day without giving any hint about his future plans. Bhat’s family informed university authorities about his disappearance on Saturday morning, following which protests rocked the varsity campus over his disappearance. The university’s vice
chancellor had met the protesting students and assured them that all efforts would be made to trace the missing professor. He had also written to the Director General of Police, requesting him that all efforts be made to trace Bhat’s whereabouts. However, this morning it was reported that Bhat was among the militants killed in an encounter.
The police said they had brought Bhat’s family from Ganderbal to the encounter site to persuade him to surrender, but to no avail.