Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) scholar turned militant, Manan Wani, was killed in the wee hours of Thursday, as a gunfight allegedly ensued between the security forces and the militants.
Army's 30 Rajputana Rifles and Special Operations Group (SOG) had reportedly cordoned off Shartgund Bala area in Handwara of Kupawara district, following which three militants were trapped. Besides Wani, another militant has also been killed, whose identity has not yet been ascertained.
Meanwhile, schools and colleges have been shut down, and the internet services have been suspended in parts of the Valley. In Srinagar, the internet signal strength has been reduced to 2G. Heavy contingent of forces have been deployed in Handwara.
In the wake of the alleged encounter, Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has called for a complete shutdown on October 12 to “pay homage to” Wani.
According to reports, hundreds of youth had assembled near the encounter site raising pro-freedom and anti-government slogans post the alleged encounter.
Former CM and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti emphasised the need to initiate a dialogue to put end to the bloodshed in Kashmir. She tweeted:
“Today a PhD scholar chose death over life & was killed in an encounter. His death is entirely our loss as we are losing young educated boys everyday.”
Earlier this year, in January 2018, the news of Manan Bashir Wani, an AMU research scholar from Kupwara joining militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen had made headlines. His photo had appeared on social media in which he could be seen holding a gun.
After learning that their son has joined militancy, the family was reportedly in the state of utter shock. His brother Mubashir had told The Indian Express, "We lost contact with him on January 4, as his phone was switched off. We thought he had switched it off for some reason or lost it. As we couldn't contact him, we lodged a missing report with police."
Wani, who was pursuing PhD in Geology earlier, had an impressive academic background. The official website of AMU reads, "Mr Mannan Bashir Wani, Research Scholar at Department of Geology, Aligarh Muslim University has been awarded the 'Best Paper Presentation Award' in an International Conference on 'Water, Environment, Energy and Society' (ICWEES) held at AISCET University, Bhopal. The award was conferred to Mr Wani for his paper 'Flood Risk Assessment of Lolab Valley from Watershed Analysis Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques'.” He was also active during the student union elections in AMU in 2016.
According to sources, death of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander, Burhan Wani – who was killed on July 8, 2016 – had affected Manan. In July 2018, he had also written a letter explaining "why he picked gun over pen".
On Thursday, Muslim League district president Tariq Ahmad Ganai was also killed by unknown gunmen in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
As per the sources, at least three unknown persons broke into Ganai’s house, and allegedly fired four bullets. Ganai was an ex-militant, and now was a member of Hurriyat.