In a big blow to militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, Hizbul Mujahideen’s 21-year-old poster boy Burhan Muzzafar Wani was shot dead today by security forces along with two of his accomplices in Kokernag area, 83 km from here.
The killing of Burhan, son of a headmaster and a school dropout, was described by Director General of J and K Police K Rajendra as a major success for the security forces because he was allegedly instrumental in brainwashing many local boys to take up the gun.
“Yes,” was Rajendra’s cryptic reply to a question whether Burhan was killed in an encounter with security personnel.
Immediately after the news of Burhan’s death spread, pro-Pakistan slogans were heard in downtown Srinagar with people coming out on the roads and burning tyres. Curfew like restrictions were imposed in the area tonight.
Giving details, highly-placed sources in the state government said the encounter followed a pinpointed information received about the presence of three highly- trained militants in Bumdoora village at Kokernag in South Kashmir.
Police parties swung into action and laid an outer cordon along with army and moved into the village after sealing every exit point, they said, adding after a brief resistance by locals who resorted to stone pelting, the security forces moved in at 3 PM.
The security forces had gathered information about the presence of one Hizbul Mujahideen militant Sartaz raising hopes that Burhan may also be present as earlier intelligence inputs suggested that both used to move together.
At around 6.15 PM, the encounter ended and scenes of jubilation among the security forces were witnessed after it was found that Burhan, who shot to fame with series of videos and pictures on social networking sites asking youths to join militancy, was among the three dead, the sources said.
A resident of Tral, in the outskirts of Srinagar city, Burhan carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head while Sartaz, who was a re-cycled terrorist, was involved in many terror related incidents.
The identity of the third militant was yet to be established.
Burhan’s last video had appeared on the social network after the killing of three policemen at Anantnag in South Kashmir last month in which he had threatened to carry out more attacks.
Burhan is believed to have taken to the gun to avenge his elder brother’s humiliation by the security forces who made him do squats after picking him up apparently without any basis.
Several images of Burhan and posts extolling him were uploaded on social networking sites like Facebook which the security agencies had got removed but that did not dent his popularity.
Considered as a ‘Poster Boy’ of Hizbul Mujahideen terror group for wooing Kashmiri youths to militancy, Burhan had joined the militant outfit in 2010 when he was just 15 years of age.
He introduced a new wave of tech-savy militants who used social media platform to find recruits and influence Kashmiri youth.
Pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has given a call for bandh tomorrow as security agencies were preparing for a law and order situation which may arise in the Valley especially in his hometown Tral.