Phd scholar turned militant Manan Wani was among two militants killed in a gunfight with Indian government forces at Shatgund Qalamabad village of Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Thursday. Sources confirmed that Wani was among the two killed militants. However, police spokesman said the identities of the slain duo was yet to be ascertained.
Wani hails from Tekipora Lolab and he had joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen on 5 January when his picture with a gun appeared on social media, probably the first highly educated youth to become militant this year.
He was pursuing PhD in Geology at Aligarh Muslim University before joining militant ranks in Kashmir. 26-year-old, Hizbul Mujahideen commander, “picked up the gun to resist the atrocities of Indian forces.” While announcing of him joining the ranks, Wani told that the “occupation won’t end, unless we do not fight with arms against their forced occupation of Kashmir.”
Soon after picking the gun, Wani penned down a letter, which was circulated by the social media cell of the militant outfit. Wani argued about his choice of life and proposed a vision for the ‘Tehreek’.
“I did analyze the wisdom of those in chairs, who wanted us to abandon false hope and macabre heroism, and work towards a dignified exit from the conflict,” said Wani. Clarifying his chosen path, he said that it is also a response to elite people of Kashmir – the product of a fraudulent democracy, worst occupation and allegedly intellectualism.
Wani was among the most discussed narrative of militancy in the social media, and it earned him fame in the valley. National media also highlighted the news of his joining, and choosing the gun over the pen, and put a question mark in the ongoing narrative of young minds.
Attacking the Jammu and Kashmir police force, Wani said, “The breed of collaborators that is emerging and the new fronts being cobbled are only to downplay the people’s will. The police functions to kill and civil servants are enthusiastic PSA appliers.”
Asking people of the valley to boycott the elections, Wani conveyed a message ‘not to fall in the same trap every day’. He continued, “Not to vote even if you are dragged by them, stay away from ballots as that will save us from bullets in the long run.”
He defined the freedom struggle through the specs of gender neutrality. He said, “it (freedom movement) has seen the women being raped and men as well. Sacrifices of the women are our motivations, they have offered their modesty, eyes, and lives.”
Asking the female sect from the valley to put in their hand, he said, “our sacrifice is nothing in comparison to them and we want them to be brave, active and resilient. We together make the nation, and together we will fight the occupation.”
“Till the path of martyrs is walked, no corrupt narrative will find its space in Kashmir. The day, the gun is silent, their deceit will succeed,” wrote late Manan Wani.
He belongs to a well off family in Lolab. Wani’s father is a lecturer and his brother Mubashir Ahmad is a junior engineer.
Reports said clashes erupted between youth and governments in Kupwara and Handwara soon after the news of Wani killing spread.
Earlier, at around 2:30 am government forces had launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) at Shatgund Qalamabad after receiving intelligence inputs about the militants in the area.
A police official said that after establishing initial contact with militants, the fire fight stopped for some time. After a brief lull, the gunfight raged again during which two militants were killed. Besides Wani, another militant has also been killed, whose identity has not yet been ascertained.
Meanwhile, schools and colleges have been shut down, and the internet services have been suspended in parts of the Valley. In Srinagar, the internet signal strength has been reduced to 2G. Heavy contingent of forces have been deployed in Handwara.
In the wake of the alleged encounter, Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has called for a complete shutdown on October 12 to “pay homage to” Wani.
According to reports, hundreds of youth had assembled near the encounter site raising pro-freedom and anti-government slogans post the alleged encounter. Former CM and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti emphasised the need to initiate a dialogue to put end to the bloodshed in Kashmir. She tweeted: “Today a PhD scholar chose death over life & was killed in an encounter. His death is entirely our loss as we are losing young educated boys everyday.”
Wani, who was pursuing PhD in Geology earlier, had an impressive academic background. The official website of AMU reads, “Mr Mannan Bashir Wani, Research Scholar at Department of Geology, Aligarh Muslim University has been awarded the ‘Best Paper Presentation Award’ in an International Conference on ‘Water, Environment, Energy and Society’ (ICWEES) held at AISCET University, Bhopal. The award was conferred to Mr Wani for his paper ‘Flood Risk Assessment of Lolab Valley from Watershed Analysis Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques’.” He was also active during the student union elections in AMU in 2016.
According to sources, death of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander, Burhan Wani – who was killed on July 8, 2016 – had affected Manan.
On Thursday, Muslim League district president Tariq Ahmad Ganai was also killed by unknown gunmen in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
As per the sources, at least three unknown persons broke into Ganai’s house, and allegedly fired four bullets. Ganai was an ex-militant, and now was a member of Hurriyat. This was the first encounter reported in the valley after four phase municipal polls began in J&K on October 8.