By Zahid Rafiq
SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) – Two Kashmiri militants were killed in a gun battle with Indian soldiers on Thursday in Kupwara district of northern Jammu and Kashmir.
One of the slain militants was identified as Manan Wani, a former doctoral student who quit to take up arms earlier this year.
Additional Director General of Police Muneer Khan told reporters that Wani was one of the militants killed in the gunfight. The other militant killed was Ashiq Hussain, a new recruit.
“Our forces cordoned off Shatgund Qalamabad village after intelligence inputs about presence of the militants,” Khan said. The gunfight lasted for several hours during which the two were killed.
The government suspended internet services in the district "as a precautionary measure". Schools and colleges were also closed.
People took to the streets to protest the killings.
Wani was a PhD scholar at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) before he joined militancy in January this year.
He also wrote for local and foreign publications supporting the armed movement in the region against Indian rule.
The pro-independence political leadership called for a complete shutdown on Friday after the news of his death was announced.
“Alas! heard the tragic news of Manan Wani’s martyrdom and of his associates. Deeply pained that we lost a budding intellectual and writer like him, fighting for the of cause of self-determination.JRL appeals to people to observe a complete shutdown tomorrow to pay homage to him,” top resistance leader Mirwaiz Umar said on Twitter.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.