Bashir Lashkar Encounter- An Eyewitness Account

June 30

News spread in the wee hours of the morning on 01 July that the famous commander of LeT, Bashir Ahmed Wani (Lashkar) alias Abu Ukasha had been trapped in the Breenti area of Southern Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district. People in droves of dozens and hundreds gathered around the encounter site trying to help the militants escape.

In the first attempt one lady named Tahira wife of Abdul Rashid Chopan was the closest to the house where Bashir was trapped. She covered the face of Bashir with her scarf to give a chance to the militant to escape. Hundreds of others gathered close to the house, an army men tried to hit her with the gun, she in self defence hit the army man with a wooden stick she was carrying. People approached closer and the army fired indiscriminately at the civilians, Tahira fell down trying to save Bashir against the claim of many that she was trying to save her son. She was also fasting. There was no firing from the either of the sides towards the house till the civilians trapped inside the house were evacuated.

The civilians trapped inside the house allegedly refused to come out of the house and one lady even said ‘they will either lie with Bashir or die with him.’ Many locals and people from other areas rushed to the encounter site and gathered in the areas in the vicinity to engage the cordoning army to give a chance to militants to escape. Youth not at a distance of more than 100 meters using the dense trees as shield from the bullets fired by paramilitary troopers from the encounter site also hit a 20 year old Junaid Resident of Foorah village in Islamabad (Anantnag) district. He fell down in my lap after being hit with a bullet saying, “Brother I want to take care of my family, Please help me, I do not want to die.”

Dozens sustained injuries, both bullet and pellet injuries. Locals even alleged that pellets were fired from the helicopter doing surveillance of the areas around the encounter site. Suddenly high intensity blasts were heard at the encounter site and the house was razed to the ground. Another civilian named Tariq Ahmed Resident of Dehruna in Islamabad (Anantnag) was also killed near the encounter site.

Those who sustained bullet injuries include Aaqib Teeli, Tariq Ahmed, Jasif Ahmed and Aadil Hassan. The pellet victims who were brought to district hospital for treatment include Zubair Yusuf, Zubair Rasool, Yasir Ahmed, Vikas Ahmed, Fayaz Ahmed, Wayir, Manzoor Ahmed, Mohammed Afaq and Mohamed Altaf.

Suddenly slogans were reverberating in the Masjid around the area that Bashir Lashkar had been killed. People poured of out of their homes as the cordon was declared off. The encounter site had been razed to the ground where blood lie scattered on the ground, on the walls of the building. People later started walking the roads loaded with weeping men and Women, “Tawan Pyeouw, Bashir Soub gouw Shaheed” (We are deserted, Bashir is no more) towards the native village of Bashir Lashkar which is more than 7 Kilometers away from the encounter site. Young men on bikes, in cars, in trucks, load carriers shouting pro Freedom, Pro Lashkar and Pro Zakir Slogans. Thousands of people gathered at Souf on a riverside to offer funeral prayers to the slain commander who was killed along with a close aide. People including women attended the last rites and also visited the house of Bashir Lashkar.

The youth gathered for the funeral shouted pro Islam and Pro Zakir slogans. A rumour spread throughout the entire area that Bashir had been spotted and he had escaped the encounter site after which thousands of people left. Later the rumour was negated after concrete evidence. Locals said that the rumour was spread to reduce the size of the people in the funeral. “lacs of people had gathered in the village and the state did not want that to happen’ said a local.

Bashir’s body was finally released around 7 pm and the first funeral prayers were held in Dehruna area which was attended by thousands of people. A Local militant, Ashraf Khan also appeared on the funeral there. The second funeral was offered at Hangalgund area of Kokernag in Southern Kashmir, attended by tens of thousands and today thousands again gathered in the morning to pay tributes to the slain LeT commander. Bashir was finally laid to rest amidst moist eyes in his native village.

Bashir Lashkar was held responsible for killing six cops in the Achabal area of the district along with a Station house officer of Achabal Police station. Abdul Rahim rather, a member of Jammu Kashmir assembly had in a statement in January this year while referring to bashir said “He was from a poor family but state forces provoked him to pick up the Gun.”