Hundreds participate in funeral for Sabzar Ahmad Sofi, a scholar-turned-terrorist
Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including “wanted” 33-year-old ‘commander’ Sabzar Ahmad Sofi, were killed in a pre-dawn operation in the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday, triggering fresh protests and a shutdown for the fourth consecutive day in the Valley.
Security forces gheraoed and raided a residential building where the militants were in hiding at Wanbal in Srinagar’s Nowgam area around 2 a.m., sparking an exchange of fire that continued until the morning. “Both the militants were neutralised and six security personnel were injured,” said Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Vidhi Kumar Birdi.
Sofi’s associate, Asif Ahmad Gojri, was also killed. They were residents of south Kashmir’s Anantnag. All educational institutions in Srinagar were closed and the Internet snapped as a precautionary measure.
The killings sparked clashes in Nowgam, Wanabal, Naikbagh, Mochu, Kanihama and parts of Anantnag. Three pellet-hit protesters were admitted to hospitals.
Described as “shy” and “an introvert” by residents of the area, Sofi is said to have joined militancy in 2016 after the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. “He was involved in several attacks on security establishments and many other atrocities in Anantnag,” said the police. Hundreds of residents participated in the funeral of Sofi. At least six armed militants appeared at the funeral procession and offered a gun salute. The group was led by Hizb top commander Zeenat-ul-Islam.
Sofi is the third highly qualified militant to be killed this year. Earlier, Manan Wani, a geology scholar from Aligarh Muslim University, and Mohammad Rafi Bhat, an assistant professor of sociology at University of Kashmir, were killed in separate encounters.
When Sofi joined the militants in 2016, he is said to have told his family that he was moving to Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi to pursue his PhD but had never reached there. The university denied that Sofi was a student there. “No such student has ever been on the roll of the university or registered as research student,” said Ahmad Azeem, spokesman of JMI.