Former Hizbul Mujahedeen militant and head of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind outfit, Zakir Rashid Bhat, alias Zakir Musa, was believed to be trapped in an encounter that broke out between security forces and militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday evening.
A police official said a cordon and search operation was launched in Dadsara village of Awantipora in the district following inputs about presence of militants in the area.
On Thursday evening, as the search operation was on, militants fired at security forces, triggering an encounter.
A police officer told The Indian Express on Thursday night: “Firing is still going on in the area. We had inputs about Zakir’s presence in the house and we believe he has been killed in the operation. The body is yet to be recovered. We can only confirm about his killing once the body is recovered.”
Till late Thursday night, there was no official confirmation or any release from J&K Police about Zakir Musa being trapped in the encounter or getting killing.
CRPF I-G (Operations), Kashmir, Zulfikar Hassan said the operation is on. Asked about the number of militants, Hassan said, “May be one or two.”
Soon after the encounter began, and news about Zakir being trapped circulated on social media, clashes erupted in some parts of the Valley. Police sources said restrictions will be imposed in some areas on Friday and people will not be allowed to proceed towards Zakir’s home. Mobile Internet was suspended by the authorities.
“Due to security reasons, we have ordered class work to remain suspended in all institutions across Kashmir Valley on Friday,” Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan said.
A former Hizbul Mujahedeen commander who was a close aide of Burhan Wani, Zakir Musa had reportedly left the outfit in May 2017 and claimed to head a local affiliate of al-Qaeda, which he named Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. He was one of the longest-surviving militants in the Valley.
Zakir was a civil engineering student at a Chandigarh college before joining militancy. He had gone missing from home in July 2013.