Hizbul Mujahideen militant Sabzar Ahmad Bhat killed in Kashmir, youth dies in fresh protests

The news of Sabzar Ahmad Bhat's death triggered protests and stone-pelting across the Valley.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: May 28, 2017 8:35 am
Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, Hizbul Mujahideen, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat dead, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat killed, At the encounter site in Tral on Saturday where Sabzar Ahmad Bhat was killed. (Source: Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

A TOP Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, 27, who was a close associate of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, was among two militants killed in an encounter in Tral, in South Kashmir, on Saturday. The other militant has been identified as Faizaan Muzaffar, 15, who is reported to have dropped out of school to join the Hizbul Mujahideen in March this year. The news of Bhat’s death triggered protests and stone-pelting across the Valley. A protester was killed in Tral and over 60 others were injured as security forces fired bullets and pellets in several places in South Kashmir. The state government has snapped mobile Internet, re-banned social media sites, and imposed curfew in several parts of the Valley. The separatists have called for a complete shutdown for two days.

“It (Bhat’s killing) is a big success,” said Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police S P Vaid. “It was a joint operation carried out by J&K Police, Army and CRPF,” he said. According to sources, the encounter started on Friday night, after militants fired at an Army patrol at Saimoo village in Tral, a militant stronghold in Pulwama district of South Kashmir. Soon after the shootout, police and Army launched a cordon-and-search operation in the village.

Officials said that the militants, who were holed up in a building, opened fire at the security forces. By Saturday afternoon, Bhat and Muzaffar were killed. Another militant was reported to have escaped. However, according to some eyewitness reports, as the encounter ended and villagers rushed to the encounter site, they found two militants lying under the debris of the building and helped them to escape. One of the militants was reportedly injured.

Earlier in the day, the villagers tried to march to Saimoo village, but were stopped at Rathsuna, which is Bhat’s village. Bhat is reported to have joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in April 2015 — after Burhan Wani’s brother, Khalid Muzaffar, was reported to have been killed in an encounter. While participating in Muzaffar’s funeral procession in Tral, Bhat is reported to have snatched a rifle from a CRPF personnel guarding a bunker, after which he went underground.

Within a short period, Bhat gained Wani’s trust and became one of his close associates. While he wasn’t a top commander of the militant outfit, he was very popular among the youth, especially after his photographs with Wani went viral on social networking sites. Wani was killed on July 8 last year. Police sources said Bhat, who had a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, operated in and around Tral. According to these sources, Bhat worked as an “overground worker” for Wani for some time. Before joining militant ranks, Bhat was allegedly involved in a car theft in his area.

Muzzaffar, the other militant killed in today’s encounter, was a Class X student who is reported to have joined the Hizbul Mujahideen after a top militant, Aqib Moulvi, was killed on March 5. The news of Bhat’s death led to a shutdown across the Valley, with youth taking to the streets and throwing stones at security personnel. The state government ordered immediate closure of schools and colleges in Srinagar. Mobile internet was snapped and social media sites blocked on broadband internet barely 15 hours after the government lifted its earlier ban.

A 28-year-old protester, Aqib Rashid Dar, was killed and several others injured — most of them hit by pellets — in Tral. A health official told The Sunday Express that 20 people were injured in Tral — 17 were hit by pellets, and three by bullets. In Anantnag district, 17 people were injured, mostly by pellets. Health official said one of the injured, who was hit by a teargas shell on his head, is in a critical condition.

In Shopian, 15 protesters were injured. Protests were also reported from several places in Srinagar and North Kashmir, including Sopore and Kupwara.

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  1. Tarun Durga
    May 30, 2017 at 1:42 am
    Good use maximum force against these stone pelters
    1. Krishna Marathe
      May 28, 2017 at 2:20 pm
      Talk dialogues with all kashmir political leaders at the same time hard army options for any wrong doing is beat options. Only dialogues or only military will not work I feel.
      1. L
        May 28, 2017 at 2:16 pm
        You kill one there will 1000 more to replace him. India has lost the battle in Kashmir both in hearts and minds and on the field. Kashmiris now openly asking India to get out of Kashmir and refusing to even go and caste a vote in the sham elections. On the field Indian army has the lowest morale. They are deserting or refusing to serve on the border or making selfie videos about appal conditions they suffer. Indian army may kill a few unarmed civilians or make them human shields but this is all out of utter frustration and denial that they have failed miserably in Kashmir. Give it up now.
        1. R
          May 29, 2017 at 9:38 am
          Lacks of kashmiri youngsters are flocking to join Indian security forces. Kashmiris include Hindus,Sikhs,Buddhists,Shias,Sunnies,Ahmedias etc. Only 7 percent of south Kashmir dominated by Wahabi suni traitor pawns of porkistan are making noise and trying to give impression that all kashmiris are up in arm! Just eliminate each and every stone peltor, trouble maker and they stop this tamasha! Rs 500/day paid by ISI is not worth dying for! Now India has real nationalist govt, which has given Army full independence to deal with traitors/agents! The end is in sight! You online stone peltors will have no propa a value even if you use Hindu names!
        2. Krishna Marathe
          May 28, 2017 at 2:13 pm
          Terrorist supporter are also terrorist, why these peoples want to join stan & supporting terriost, it's not only in india but all over the world all these peoples have problem And they are fighting for their imaginary problems they become terrorist and kil innocent."wish new god like mohammed paigamber will come again and guide & correct these terrorist mentality, show them peace path"
          1. M
            Mad about
            May 28, 2017 at 1:29 pm
            They all must be eliminated. This is a very strategy of Army to cordon off the area and kill them. But I don't know how the 2 other escaped from the debris. Villagers must be dealt with firmly if they try to help militants escape. There has be two pronged strategy - eliminate before militants try to enter Indian area, and second cordon-off and kill inside Kashmir. LoveIndia
            1. L
              L bhadrapati Devi
              May 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm
              If brutal suppression keeps on doing only promote blood shed among the Indian. They militant may reach to your home also. Only political dialogue as done by UPA may restore normalcy in Kashmir.
              1. A
                May 28, 2017 at 1:54 pm
                No amount of milk can make a poisonous snake stop biting ... Only way is to isolate and eliminate
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