Thousands pay tribute to martyred Hizb commander

Sopore, Ihk—Thousands of people hit roads in Sopore to participate in the funeral of Sameer Wani alias Jana, a top-ranking Hizbul Mujahideen commander who was killed in a brief gunfight with government forces in Nagri, Drugmulla area of Kupwara district. Wani hails from Dooru in Sopore.
Police and army had surrounded the house of Ghulam Mohiuddin, where Wani had taken shelter. After firing some warning shots, the government forces blew up the house and recovered Wani’s body. They also claimed to have recovered a Chinese pistol and some magazines.
The news of Wani’s death sparked off massive outpouring of mourners from his native village and adjoining hamlets besides Sopore town.
Some mourners pelted the government forces with stones and set ablaze a police truck near Hardeshiva village even as cops fired teargas shells and live ammunition in air to chase them away. The crowds kept swelling. They came in tippers, cars, trucks and motorcycles to the place where funeral prayers were offered. Women and children jostled with men for a glimpse of the militant’s body. Militants who are killed in gunfights with government forces are hailed as martyrs in the Valley.
Scores of women showered Wani’s body with candy and flowers. Although the majority of the people were fasting, it didn’t tell upon the people’s fervor in their pro-freedom and pro-militant sloganeering. Hundreds of people recorded the funeral on their mobile phones.
Wani, who had joined Hizb ranks in 2014, was very popular in the area. Several villagers told Kashmir Reader that he was an excellent cricketer, who would regale the crowds with his athleticism and good nature. He used to work in a bakery shop before taking the plunge in militancy.
Wani is believed to have been an associate of rebel Hizb commander Abdul Qayoom Najar, who reportedly floated a organisation, Lashkar-e-Islam, which was responsible for several attacks on mobile communication networks and former militants and others. Grapevine has it that Najar and Hizb leadership reconciled finally. Hizb chief and chairman of United Jihad Council Syed Salahuddin paid tribes to Wani, saying “people of Kashmir are always ready to make any kind of sacrifice”.
Government forces had been hunting for Wani for the past several months. Hailed as one of the most able commanders of Hizb in North Kashmir, dozens of raids and search operations had been carried out to nab him, without much success. Sameer made a final phone call to his father Mohammad Samandar Wani during his final battle with the government forces. “He was my good boy. Sameer called up just before he achieved martyrdom. I am caught up here, he said. I am going to die, Aba. Please forgive me for any trouble I might have given you in my life,” Wani senior told Kashmir Reader.—KR

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