PhD scholar turned Hizb commander killed along with associate in Kashmir

Nine months after joining Hizb-ul-Mujahideen during which he rose to the rank of the outfit’s top commander, PhD scholar turned militant Manan Bashir Wani along with his associate were killed in an encounter with government forces in home district of Kupwara in north Kashmir on Thursday.

While thousands of people turned up at his funeral, massive clashes erupted in the Kupwara and several other parts of the Valley soon after officials confirmed Wani’s killing around 1300 hours.

Manan Bashir Wani, who announced his joining the militant outfit in January this year, was killed along with Ashiq Hussain Zargar son of Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Zargar of Tulwari Langate in the gunfight at Shartgund Balla area of Handwara in the frontier district.

The gunfight broke out after a joint team of army’s 30 RR and SOG cordoned off Shatgund Balla area at around 2:30 a.m. following specific “intelligence inputs.” The gunfight took place at around 9:15 a.m.

If sources are to believed, the encounter was launched after a go-a-head was given by the home ministry amid ongoing elections for urban local bodies. While two phases of the elections passed off incident-free, as many phases are remaining. Sources said that police, army and CRPF have been asked not to carry out any anti militancy operation during the polls unless some “top gun” was trapped.

“Soon after the information through intelligence inputs was received about the Manan Wani’s presence, the forces sought instruction from the home department whether or not to go ahead with the operation,” police sources said, adding, “after getting the go-a-head signal, the operation was carried out and both the militants were killed.”

Wani, a resident of Tekipora Lolab had joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in January this year. He was pursuing PhD in Geology at Aligarh Muslim University before joining militant ranks in Kashmir. The slain top militant belonged to a well off family in Lolab. His father is a lecturer and brother Mubashir Ahmad is a junior engineer.

Soon after the news about the killing of Manan spread, violent clashes erupted in parts of Kupwara and Handwara.

Over two dozen protesters were injured in clashes at Shartgund Balla, Qalamabad, Langate, Kralgund, Natnussa, Bumhama, Kupwara, Khumriyal, Cherkote, Wavoora, Takipora, Badi Bera, Gangbugh areas .

At Tikipora, the angry protesters hurled stones at an army camp and continued with protests for some time before dispersing off.

Reports of protests were also received from Kashmir University campus Zakura, government polytechnic college Nagam, Chadoora. Similar reports poured in from Tral, Memender in Shopian district.

In the meantime, tens and thousands of people participated in the Manan’s funeral. He was later laid to rest in the ancestral graveyard.

Meanwhile, the authorities at Kashmir University (KU) have decided to suspend the class work at the main campuses and all satellite campuses on Friday.

“This is for the information of all the concerned that due to the prevailing conditions in the valley, the class work for October 12 in main campus and satellite campuses shall remain suspended,” reads a notice issued by deputy registrar, academic affairs of the varsity.

Also all schools and colleges will remain closed tomorrow in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district in view of Manan’s killing.

“All government Educational institutions including Degree Colleges, Private Schools /Colleges in the territorial jurisdiction of District Bandipora shall remain closed on 12th Of Oct 2018,” said the District Magistrate Bandipora.

Earlier, the authorities closed all the educational institutions in the frontier district except in Machil, Tanghdar and Keran areas and snapped internet services in parts of Handwara and Kupwara.

The schools and colleges were closed in Bandipora district along with Colleges and Higher Secondary Schools in Pattan and Baramulla. Also degree college Pulwama has been closed by the authorities, the officials added.

Meanwhile, authorities have decided to impose restrictions in Old city and other sensitive parts of the valley as a precautionary measure to prevent protests.