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In the Kashmir Valley, people are mourning the death of top Hizbul Commander Altaf Ahmad Dar Known also known as Kachroo, who was killed in an encounter along with his associate in a village of Anantnag District. He was one of the longest-surviving militants of the Kashmir valley.

As soon as the news circulated on social media, clashes and protests erupted in various districts of the valley particularly in Kulgam, the native place of the slain militants. At least fifty protestors were wounded in action by government forces to curb protests from spreading to other areas.

According to police sources, Altaf Ahmad Dar (a science graduate) alias Kachroo of Hawoora Mishpora (Kulgam), aged 34, was the deputy operational commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, who had been an active militant in his first stint as a guerrilla before he was arrested. He was released in 2010. A year later he again took to arms.

According to his mother, a widow, Altaf was barely six when his father-Ghulam Muhammad Dar also a Hizb militant was killed at LOC while returning to Kashmir from Pakistan held Kashmir. He is now survived by two brothers and two sisters.

Altaf was listed as category A++ militant in police records and was involved in a number of attacks in the Kashmir valley, Police said.

According to the statement of police, “Dar along with YasinYatoo alias Ghaznavi a slain Hizb operational commander played a major role in instigating people during 2016 summer unrest”.  Altaf was a known cordon breaker and had escaped from numerous encounters in the last seven years. “He had escaped from an 18-hour long fierce gun battle in Frisal Kulgam in which four of his associates were killed,” police said.

His associate Umar Rashid Wani, 24, of Khudwani, had joined militant ranks early this year and according to police had carried a recent attack on CRPF in Srinagar city and also escaped from an encounter at Batmaloo. “He was also involved in the killing of a policeman in Anantnag,” police said.

Meanwhile, the government forces had laid a siege around the Muniward village located barely 3 Kilometers from the Khanabal locality of Anantnag town at around 12:00 in the midnight.

According to villagers that around 5:45 am, gunshots were heard and the guns only fell silent around 10 in the morning. Later remains of the two militants were retrieved from the site. The newly constructed house where the militants had taken shelter was set ablaze by the forces. When the gunfight ended protests started in the area. The government forces used pellet and tear gas to curb protests.

As the word of the killing of Altaf and his associate spread, people took to streets in the Khudwani area of Qaimoh and clashed with forces. Youth resorted to heavy stone pelting on the forces who responded by lobbing tear gas shells and pellets.

Even barbed wires and barricades were put on the old national highway near Sangam and Bijbehara town and no vehicle was allowed to ply on the road. The internet service was shattered in both the districts. Besides that, the rail service was also suspended by the authorities.

People in droves thronged Hawoora-Mishpora, the native village of Altaf to participate in his funeral. Amid pro-freedom slogans at least five back to back funerals were offered. At least twenty militants in different groups appeared at the funeral of Altaf and offered the gun salute to their commander. People were seen jostling around and trying to hug the militants.

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