Thousands attend multiple rounds of his funeral prayers
AnsarGazwat-ul-Hind (AGH) chief and most wanted militant commander, Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa was killed in an 11-hour long overnight gunfight with forces at Dadsara village of Tral area in south Kashmir's Pulwama district.
A police official said cordon and search operation was launched in Batepora area of Dadsara village in Tral by Army's 42 Rashtriya Rifles, 180 bn CRPF and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police yesterday after receiving credible inputs about presence of militants there.
He said the CASO was launched at around 4:30 pm Thursday after receiving inputs about presence of Zakir Musa in the area.
“After searching a cluster of houses for two and half hours, contact was established with militants hiding in a residential house. A search party, which was approaching a residential house, was fired upon by militants hiding there," he said adding fire was returned by troops, triggering a gunfight.
"The exchange of fire started at around 7 pm after which there was brief lull for some time. The firing again resumed at 9 pm and continued till 1:30 am. Again there was a lull for four hours. At around 6 am, a militant rushed out from the house and was killed in the backyard," he said.
The deceased militant was identified as Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa alias Haroon, a resident of Noorpora village of Tral.
Zakir was initially associated with HizbulMujahideen (HM ) and then was appointed chief of AGH, an Al-Qaeda Kashmir cell.
Local residents said the house in which militants were hiding was set on fire and blasted with explosives.
After the word spread on Thursday night that Zakir was trapped, pro-freedom and pro-Zakir Musa slogans were blared from mosque loudspeakers across different areas of south Kashmir.
Scores of youth staged a protest rally in main town Tral. It was dispersed after forces fired several rounds in air.
Clashes were also reported from Chandrigam, a village in neighborhood of Dadsara on Thursday night.
After performing lego-medical formalities, body of Zakir Musa was handed over to heirs for burial on Friday morning by police.
Thousands of people started marching towards Noorpora, which is native village of the slain militant, since Thursday evening.
Many youth were accommodated by villagers in their houses and others were accommodated in village mosques.
Braving incessant rains, people from different areas of Valley thronged Noorpora on Friday despite restrictions and shutdown.
Over 15000 people reached Noorpora to participate in funeral prayers of the slain militant commander which were held in multiple turns, eyewitnesses said.
The forces personnel deployed in Charsoo area of Awantipora on Srinagar-Jammu highway were preventing people from marching towards Tral.
This angered youth, who pelted stones on forces, who retailed by firing teargas smoke shells and also resorted to aerial firing.
After multiple funeral prayers, the body of Zakir Musa was laid to rest in a village graveyard at around 2 pm amidst pro-freedom and anti Indian slogans.
Funeral prayers in absentia for Zakir Musa were held across the Valley after the Friday congregational prayers.
Zakir Musa had joined militant ranks on July 13, 2013. Before joining militant ranks, he had earned a B tech degree from a Chandigarh university.
He was a close associate of militant commander, BurhanMuzaffarWani and became operational commander of HM in valley after Burhan's killing in an encounter at Bamdooro village of Anantnag on July 8, 2016.
But, he parted ways with HM after differences with the leadership of the outfit following his statement against Hurriayt leaders.
In May 2017, he was appointed chief of AGH, an Al Qaeda’s Kashmir cell.
Zakir is survived by three siblings besides his parents.
A police spokesperson said that Zakir was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of attacks on forces establishments and civilian atrocities for which a number of cases were registered against him.
He said Zakir was also accused for serial blasts at Jalandhar, Punjab on September 14, 2018 for which case FIR No: 163/2018 was registered at police station Maqsudan Jalandhar.
The NIA had declared him proclaimed offender in the case.