On May 31st, 2019, one civilian and one top commander among two militants were killed during an ambush launched by the government forces in Dragad Sugan, an area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Just before dawn, a joint team of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR, a wing of the Indian Army), Special Officers Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and 180th battalion of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) launched an ambush in an orchard.
Image Courtesy: Kamran Yousuf
As per reports, during the initial stage of the ambush, two bodies were recovered from the spot. However, firing continued for the next 11 hours.
During the 12 hour long gunfight, a top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), namely Abid Manzoor Magray alias Saju Tiger, his associate Hilal Ahmad and a civilian were killed. The civilian was identified as Jasim Ahmad Shah, a 22-year-old boy, resident of Malnad Sugan. He was a final year student at Government Degree college, Shopian. Jasim was the first cousin of Al-Badr’s top-slain commander Zeenat-ul-Islam.
According to the list prepared by the government forces, Zeenat was among the top 12 most wanted militants in Kashmir. Zeenat was killed in an ambush on 13 January 2019 in Katpora village of Yaripora area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
According to reports, Tiger had joined the militant ranks in August 2016 during the mass uprising in Kashmir.
A resident of Nowpora Payeen, an area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Tiger was currently serving as the area commander of Zainpora Shopian. He was also believed to be a close associate of HM’s top commander- Riyaz Naikoo.
Born in a middle class family, Tiger was a cab driver before joining the militancy and would help his father Manzoor Ahmad Magray who is in his early forties, with farming.
Eldest among the three siblings, Tiger was a famous batsman in his locality. In 2010 he was slapped with Public Safety Act (PSA) for serving as an over ground worker (OGW) to the militants and spent six months in jail.
Thousands of people- males, females and also children, reached Nowpora to get the last glimpse of Tiger and attend his funeral. As soon as his corpse was brought to the courtyard, people raised pro-freedom and pro-militancy slogans.
Later in the afternoon, another ambush was laid by a joint team of 42RR, SOG and 180 BN of CRPF in Nannar Midoora village of the Tral belt (an area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district).
As per reports, clashes erupted in numerous villages in Tral and people took to the streets in retaliation to help break the cordon for the trapped militant.
Reports further mentioned of forces resorting to aerial firing, tear gas and pepper gas canisters to disperse the protestors.
However, after a few hours, government forces killed two militants and bodies were recovered from the site. As per police officials, incriminating evidence like arms and ammunitions were recovered from the site. Police have identified the slain militants as Yawar Ahmad Najar of Darganie Gund Tral and Umar (alias)- a Pakistan national .
Police further said that both the militants were involved in various attacks in Tral and Awantipora. They were also responsible for IED explosion at Amlar Tral road during the intervening night of 2nd and 3rd March, 2019.
To avoid casualties, police officials, directed and requested locals of the concerned areas to not venture around the ambush zones as the site can prove fatal due to stray unexploded explosives.