Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Shafat Hussain Wani was killed on Sunday morning in a brief encounter at Arizal village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district. A civilian woman was injured in the exchange of fire between Wani and security personnel. “On specific input regarding presence of terrorists, Budgam police, 53 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) and CRPF launched a cordon and search operation in Arizal,” said a police spokesperson. “During search, terrorists came out of a house and fired indiscriminately on security forces. In retaliation, a terrorist was killed. He has been identified as Shafat Hussain Wani”. Police said Wani was associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba.
As news about Wani’s killing spread, police, Army and paramilitary forces sealed all roads leading to his native village Wagoora in Baramulla. This triggered stone-pelting at nearby places, including Nowpora and Shrakwara. Police fired teargas shells to disperse the stone-throwers. A large crowd gathered at Wani’s funeral, where Pakistani flags were waved and pro-Pakistan slogans raised.
Wani, who joined militants in April last year, was described by villagers as a brilliant student who taught many children of the village at a private school and also gave tuitions.
A villager said many children who attended the funeral were Wani’s students. “He was a brilliant student. After passing Class XII exams, he would often help militants. He started teaching after dropping out of college and later joined the militants,” the villager said.