Students across Kashmir took to the streets on Tuesday in protest against the killing of Lashkar-e-Taiba commander and Pakistani national Abu Dujana, and a teenage militant named Arif Dar even as authorities announced a complete shutdown in the Valley.
Instead of returning to their homes, students filled the major thoroughfares of the Valley in protest against the killing. There were reports of students clashing with security forces across Kashmir. One protestor was killed while 40 others were injured in the Hakripora area of southern Pulwama district where the encounter took place. Telecom companies have also been asked to shut down internet connectivity in the area.
This was for the first time in the recent history of Kashmir that the student community launched protests after the killing of a foreign militant (Dujana), probably indicating his popularity. The two militants
Dujana, who was identified as an A++ category militant and placed at the top of a list of 12 most wanted militants by Indian Army in May this year, has been active in the Valley since December 2014.
"He was an eyesore for everyone and his elimination is a huge success for the security forces," a Jammu and Kashmir police official said during a press conference, adding that the hunt for other militants will continue with the same speed.
Lieutenant General JS Sandhu, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Army’s 15 Corps said, "We tried to persuade the militants to surrender but they refused."
A master of disguise, Dujana had the knack of hiding in the plain sight. Unlike other foreign militants, he had an intimate knowledge of lanes and the topography of south Kashmir and could speak Kashmiri.
He had earned a reputation for escaping cordons and giving a slip to security forces nearly twelve times before he was killed on Tuesday. In fact, in April 2017, Dujana and at least two other militants had escaped a cordon in the same village where he was killed on Tuesday.
A native of Gilgit, Dujana rose to popularity after the death of Burhan Muzaffar Wani last year. He appeared in several protests that erupted after Wani's death. He was particularly popular in Pulwama and parts of Kulgam.
Police officials said that Dujana was the longest surviving militant in the Valley and had planned several attacks. "Survival was his tactic. He would only plan the attack and would assign others the job to carry it. He has a huge following and that was a headache for us," he said.
His charismatic leadership had also helped amplify Lashkar-e-Taiba’s influence in south Kashmir, police officials said, adding that Lashkar-e-Taiba is now seen as a formidable group in the region, drawing numerous recruits from the area.
He was elevated as the divisional commander after the previous south Kashmir divisional commander, Abdul Rehman alias Abu Qasim, was killed on 29 October, 2015. Qasim's death had sparked one of the first instances of mass participation in a militant’s funeral in the recent years.
Since then, the Lashkar-e-Taiba has not only gained popularity but also managed to reinvent itself as an indigenous group, as it claimed in press statement released in April 2017.
Sixteen-year-old Dar, who was also killed during the gun battle on Tuesday was a resident of Lelhar area of Kakpora town, which is believed to be the hotbed of the Lashkar-e-Taiba activities. The teenager is believed to have joined militancy at the age of 14.
Fascinated by a pouch of AK 47 magazine lying at an encounter site, Dar had taken it home out of excitement. The people in his village said that Dar was teased by local kids, who convinced him that the army would go after him for keeping the ammunition. He kept the pouch with him for two weeks and joined Lashkar-e-Taiba on 25 August, 2015.
Dar was the youngest of the five siblings and was the favourite child. "He was a sensitive child and could not withstand the injustice that was happening around him. He therefore, took the weapon to fight," one of his neighbours said.
According to the police, Dar was involved in bank robberies in south Kashmir.
Meanwhile, students at the University of Kashmir also assembled in the campus and held strong anti-India protests. They were planning to offer funeral in absentia for the slain militants.
Updated Date: Aug 01, 2017 19:20 PM