J&K: Research scholar among two militants killed in encounter

India Kashmir Fighting [File] Paramilitary official standing guard in Srinagar | AP

Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants— including former Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Ph.D. scholar-turned-militant, Manan Wani—have been killed in an encounter with security forces at Kupwara in north Kashmir.

The encounter took place in Shatgund village at 2.30 am on Thursday after the police launched a search operation in the area following an intelligence report. The firing stopped from the militants' side around 9 am but resumed after 15 minutes when the security forces tried to close in on the hideout.

The exchange of fire continued intermittently for an hour. The security forces took away the bodies of two militants when the firing stopped. As a precaution, the internet was suspended in Kupwara; schools and colleges were also closed in the district and other areas in south Kashmir. 

The police are yet to confirm the identity of the two slain militants. Meanwhile, clashes were reported near the encounter site as youngsters pelted stones at the police who responded with tear smoke shells.

A photo of Wani holding a gun had appeared on social media days after he went missing from his home. His family was clueless about his whereabouts until his photo appeared on WhatsApp and Facebook. The 26-year-old scholar was about to complete his Ph.D. on 'Structural and Geomorphological Study of Lolab Valley, Kashmir' at AMU.

He was also the recipient of an award at an international conference on Water, Environment, Ecology, and Society in 2016. The conference took place at AISECT University, Bhopal where he won the award for his paper 'Flood Risk Assessment of Lolab Valley from Watershed Analysis Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques'. Wani's paper was chosen among those by 400 participants from 20 countries including the USA, Canada, Austria, South Africa, Egypt, Iran and Itlay.

Additional Director General of Police, Muneer Khan, told THE WEEK that the family of Wani has identified one of the slain militants as their son. "Some of his relatives had come to see the body and they identified one of the militants as Wani,'' Khan said.

The other militant, Ashiq from Tulwari Langate, Kupwara is a new recruit. The separatist Joint Resistance Leadership of Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have called for a strike on Friday against the killing of Wani and Ashiq.