Militants offer 'gun salute' to fallen comrade In J&K

A group of militants appeared in the funeral of slain Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Asif Malik in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district and offered a 'gun salute'. (Representative image)

In a brazen display which shows how the Valley has been pushed back to the turmoil days of the '90s, a group of militants appeared in south Kashmir on Thursday to offer 'gun salutes' to their fallen comrade.

Reports and eyewitnesses said a group of militants appeared in the funeral of slain Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Asif Malik alias Abu Ukasha at his native village Khahgund Verinag in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district and offered a 'gun salute' with young men and women raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.

They said hundreds of mourners jostled to touch the faces of militants as they fired in the air. Ukasha was killed in an encounter with security forces in neighbouring Gasigund village of the district. 

With graph of militancy going up significantly and the space for mainstream politics shrinking swiftly, militants in the sheer audacity of parading themselves in front of the cameras of media persons have brought back memories of the early 1990s when this used to be a common sight.

Thursday's incident is not the first time such scenes have unfolded, in the past two-and-a-half years. The militants have managed to do this multiple times, especially in southern districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag.

Sources in security agencies term it a disturbing development, as in the early 1990s, suspicion of militants presence at funerals had led to security forces opening fire that resulted into many casualties. "Due to widespread support for militants these days, it is difficult to make out who is a ultra and who is not," a police officer said.

The other problem for security forces, he said, has been the growing crowds at the funerals of slain militants which not only indicates a groundswell for separatism, they often try to provide cover for holed up ultras during encounters.

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Militants offer 'gun salute' to fallen comrade In J&K

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