Two Slain Teenagers Joined Militant Ranks Recently

Two Slain Teenagers Joined Militant Ranks Recently

18 September 2013
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: The two teenaged local Hizbul Mujahideen militants Aqib Rashid Sofi and Bilal Ahmad Bhat, who were killed on the premises of a school during an encounter in Bandipora on Tuesday evening, had joined the militant ranks recently. While Aqib was a listed militant, Bilal had joined the militant ranks just a few weeks ago. Police sources said Aqib had been active for the last six months and joined militant ranks after it surfaced that he was accompanying the militants who were involved in the killing of National Conference sarpanch Javaid Ahmad Wani of Kalantra Payeen in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Wani was shot dead by militants on February 24 outside his residence at Kalantra Payeen, 55 km north of Srinagar. “During the investigation into Wani’s killing, it surfaced that Aqib was accompanying the militants who were involved in the attack. When we came to know about it, he immediately went underground and joined the Hizbul ranks,” said a senior police officer. The police said the other local militant Bilal was Aqib’s friend. “Bilal had joined militant ranks a few weeks ago,” the police officer said. “On Tuesday when we got information about the presence of the duo, an operation was launched in which the two were killed on the school premises,” he added. The family members of Bilal, however, allege the duo was killed in a staged encounter. “Bilal was missing for the past two days and his body bore torture marks which indicate the two were killed in custody,” said Bilal’s brother Mohammad Abdullah Bhat. Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in the duo’s village Palhalan and the surrounding areas to mourn their killing. Hundreds of people gathered at a prayer ground in the village to attend the funeral of the militants. The mourners raised “pro-freedom” and “anti-India” slogans and later clashed with police and paramilitary personnel in the Palhalan and Pattan areas on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. Reports said nearly half a dozen persons, including policemen, were injured in the clashes. Security personnel were later deployed in strength to ensure that traffic on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway was not disrupted.