Srinagar: In a major setback to the Hizbul Mujahideen, Yasin Yatoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi, a top Hizbul commander in the Valley, was killed Sunday in a gunbattle with a joint team of the Army, CRPF and J&K Police at Awneera village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
The operation, which lasted over 15 hours, claimed the lives of two soldiers, identified as Sepoy Gawai Sumedh Waman of Akola in Maharashtra and Sepoy Ilayaraja P from Sivagangai in Tamil Nadu. Two associates of Yatoo identified as Umar Majeed and Sheikh Irfan-ul-Haq were also killed.
According to police sources, the firing by militants and the stone-throwing by local residents helped several other militants, including two other Hizb commanders Saddam and Altaf, escape. “The attack from outside was an attempt to help Ghaznavi escape but he could not break the cordon despite moving from one house to another. We have also recovered a Krinkov rifle,” said sources.
People were marching towards Nagam Chadoora in Budgam district. Small and large groups were impatient to have the last glimpses of slain militant.
These were the scenes at the funeral of slain operational commander of Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen Mohammad Yasin Itoo alias Ghaznavi. He was killed along with his two associates in a gun battle at Awneera village Southern Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Thousands of people gathered and several rounds of the funeral were offered. Yasin is believed to be longest surviving militant, who had joined ranks in 1996 when he was a college student. Earlier, two years ago he was believed to be killed at LoC. A funeral prayer in absentia was also offered at that time.
However, he later appeared in a number of videos and was active in southern Kashmir. Last year, on this day he along with other militants wearing green cloth, appeared at a mega rally in Redwani village of Kulgam and addressed people offering a gun salute. The rally was held in support to the independence day of Pakistan.
Ghaznavi’s death is a major setback to the outfit at a time when it is trying to prevent the rise of Zakir Musa, the breakaway militant who has set up Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, the first affiliate of Al Qaida in Kashmir.