Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani (22), the architect of the social-media driven psychological warfare in Kashmir, was Martyred along with two other Mujahideens in an encounter in Anantnag district on Friday evening.
Wani and his two local associates were cornered by security forces in Kokernag area and killed in an encounter. The mujahideens hurled grenades and opened fire in a bid to escape, but the house where they were holed up was bombed killing all three, police sources said.
Director General of Police (DGP) K. Rajendra confirmed that Wani was among the three mujahideens killed in the joint operation of the Army and the counter-insurgency cells of Srinagar and Anantnag districts.
The news of Wani’s death triggered protests across the Valley. Hundreds of people assembled in Tral, Wani’s hometown, on Friday evening to participate in his funeral prayers. Several others performed funeral in absentia in south, central and north Kashmir.
A senior police officer said several security forces’ installations were attacked in south Kashmir and protesters were injured in late night clashes.
Fearing more violence, the State government has imposed curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar, Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian, Sopore, Kupwara and Kulgam.
Internet services have been snapped across the Valley and all top-ranking separatist leaders placed under house arrest.
Top police sources told The Hindu that Wani, who joined the militancy in 2010, had remained elusive because of his “tremendous following” online and on the ground.
“Every time an operation was launched against Wani, our movement was reported to him by his huge network of young supporters and fans,” said a top police officer.
Wani, the face of new-age mujahideens in Kashmir, played a key role in making Hizbul Mujahideen stronger than the Lashkar-e-Taiba in the Valley. “Since 2010, he must have influenced more than 60 youths in south Kashmir to join Azad-Kashmir-Tehreek.