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  • Hurriyat calls for shutdown, Mehbooba terms his killing 'loss', Hizib pays tribute

SRINAGAR: Mannan Bashir Wani, an AMU research scholar from Kupwara district of North Kashmir was killed along one associate in a gunfight with the government forces in Shatgund village of Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Thursday.  According to reports, two militants were killed in the gunfight that raged intermittently since 2:30 am in the village following a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO). Police identified one of the slain militants as Mannan Wani, who had joined militant ranks in January earlier this year. 

Mannan is the son of Bashir Ahmad Wani. Mannan was pursuing his PhD in applied geology at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). Reports said that there was a lull in firing at around 9 AM, prompting the police to initiate search operation at the gunfight site, but the same had to be suspended after firing resumed after 15 minutes. 

However intense exchange of fire took place for nearly an hour from 11 am. Meanwhile at least three people were injured in the clashes between protesters and government forces in a village in Handwara, where a fierce encounter broke out this morning. Locals confirmed Press Trust of Kashmir over Phone that violent protests erupted in Shotgund village when the residents hit the streets and offered resistance over killing of two militants in the area. Angry protesters hurled rocks at the government forces to disrupt the encounter. 

The government forces burst tear gas canisters and fired pellets to break up the pro-freedom demonstrators, witnesses said, adding “ The forces fired live ammunition after failing to chase protesters with tear smoke shells and pellets.”  Hospital sources from Kupwara told Press Trust of Kashmir that at least six people were injured in the clashes.  They added that “two people were hit with pellets while another has been hit by a bullet in his leg. Two of the three injured have been referred to Srinagar hospital for treatment”. 

However Police in a statement said that  in the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed. Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. Police has registered a case in this regard and the investigation has been initiated in the instant manner.  Meanwhile former chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti termed the killing of scholar turned militant commander Mannan Wani as “Our loss” and advocated dialogue with all stake holders to resolve Kashmir dispute. 

“Today a PhD scholar chose death over life & was killed in an encounter. His death is entirely our loss as we are losing young educated boys every day,” Mehbooba wrote on her Twitter handle. In another tweet, Mehbooba advocated resumption of dialogue to resolve the long pending Kashmir dispute.  “It is high time that all the political parties in the country realise the gravity of this situation and try to facilitate a solution through dialogue with all the stake holders including Pakistan to end this bloodshed,” she said. 

Meanwhile Awami Ittehad Party  chairman and MLA Langate Er Rasheed said in a statement issued that “The killing of Manan Wani negates Governor Satpal Malik’s claim that we should focus on eliminating militancy rather killing militants.  “Rather celebrating the killing and using bullets and pallets to disperse thousands of protesters at the encounter site, the government should introspect what forces masses to play with their lives,” said Er Rasheed. 

Meanwhile Militant outfit Hizbul Mujhadeen also paid rich tributes to scholar turned militant commander Manan Wani and his associate Ashiq Hussain Zargar who were killed in a gunfight at Shatgund Handwara.  However Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman and senior joint resistance leader (JRL) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has called for a shutdown on Friday against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Mannan Wani. 

Taking to his Twitter handle, Mirwaiz expressed shock over the killing of scholar turned militant in a gunfight with government forces in Shatpora village of Handwara today. “Alas! heard the tragic news of #MananWani’s Martyrdom and of his associates! Deeply pained that we lost a budding intellectual and writer like him, fighting for the of cause of self-determination. JRL appeals to people to observe a complete #Shutdown tomorrow to pay homage to him,” he wrote. 

Authorities also ordered the suspension of class work in educational institutions of various districts of Kashmir valley. Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kupwara Khalid Jehangir said the class work in all educational institutions of Kupwara will remain suspended. Meanwhile, the authorities in district Bandipora have also ordered the closure of all educational institutions. 

Deputy Commissioner Baramulla also ordered the closure of colleges and higher secondary schools (HSS) in Pattan, Sopore sub division and Baramulla town. The administration of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora has also ordered the closure of the varsity today. "The university will remain closed for today," said a varsity spokesman. Authorities have suspended the Internet services in the Kupwara district "as a precautionary measure".