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Posted at: Jan 14, 2019, 7:05 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2019, 10:03 AM (IST)

Al-Badr commander Zeenat-ul-Islam killed in encounter in Kulgam

But for Naikoo and Musa, all top ultras eliminated: Police; 10 injured in clashes at time of funeral
Al-Badr commander Zeenat-ul-Islam killed in encounter in Kulgam
Photo: Social media

Suhail A Shah & Majid Jahangir

Anantnag/Srinagar, January 13

Wanted Al-Badr commander Zeenat-ul-Islam (29), a key recruiter  who escaped several times by breaking the security cordon, ran out of luck late Saturday. He was killed along with his aide in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. 

The operational chief of Al-Badr was one of the few surviving militants on the list of the Army’s “22 most wanted” released in June last year. His elimination is believed to have further weakened the militant ranks in Kashmir.

Since November, more than six top commanders have been killed by the forces. “Except for Riyaz Naikoo and Zakir Musa, the top militant leadership has been eliminated,” said police sources.

The gunfight at Kathpora Yaripora on Saturday erupted after dusk when the forces launched a search operation. Initially, the police said two militants had been killed. It was midnight when the deceased were identified as Zeenat and his aide Shakeel Ahmad Dar.  

The police said apart from being an IED expert, Zeenat was a key recruiter. “It was often at funerals of militants, when emotions run high, that he would pick recruits,” a police official said.

Active since 2006, Zeenat was arrested in 2009 in north Kashmir’s Sopore and jailed for at least four years. In 2015, he joined the Lashkar-e-Toiba and then Hizbul Mujahideen. He was allegedly involved in an ambush in February 2017 that left three Army jawans dead and five wounded.  He became Al-Badr commander a few months ago. Thousands of mourners today attended Zeenat’s funeral in his native village Sugan in Shopian. His father Ghulam Hassan Shah called his killing a “proud moment”.

Clashes erupted when the forces restricted the movement of mourners. More than 10 persons were injured as the forces fired bullets and pellets. A woman suffered injuries when she was allegedly hit by a security vehicle.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti termed the security forces’ action unfortunate and disturbing. “Reports of aerial firing to stop the crowd from participating in the funeral of a local militant  are very unfortunate and disturbing. Such interference in the religious affairs is undesirable and may backfire, leading to further anger and alienation,” she tweeted.

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