Scores attend LeT commander Junaid Matoo’s funeral, militants perform gun salute
Scores of people, including militants, turned up for the funeral of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Junaid Matoo at Khudwani village in Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Saturday.
Matoo was among the three LeT militants killed in an encounter with security forces at Arwani in Bijbehara on Friday. Police confirmed their death only after recovering their bodies from the debris early the next morning. Among the mourners were fellow-militants who performed a gun salute at the funeral.
A resident of Khudwani village, 20-year-old Matoo was a category A++ militant with a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head. His name figured in a list of 12 wanted men released recently by the Army. He became the outfit’s Kulgam commander after Majid Zargar was killed by security forces in December.
According to reports, Matoo was still a college student when he took up militancy in June 2015.
A police statement described the LeT commander as a notorious militant who was involved in a number of terror activities. “This included the killing of a police constable at Bogund in Kulgam on Thursday; an attack on a police squad at Mirbazar, where police officer Mehmood attained martyrdom; and the killing of an assistant sub-inspector and a constable near the Anantnag bus stand last year,” it said.
Matoo had also attacked a police van and killed three policemen last year.
He and the other militants – Nasir Wani and Adil Mushtaq Mir – were killed when police and security forces jointly launched an operation to flush out militants from Makro Mohalla on Friday morning. A shootout ensued, and several civilians were caught in the crossfire. Two of them – Ehsan Ahmad and Muhammad Ashraf – succumbed to their injuries.
After Burhan Wani and Sabzar Bhat, Matoo is the third high-profile militant to be killed since the 2016 unrest.
Later on Friday, the LeT retaliated by ambushing a police party on the outskirts of Anantnag district and killing six policemen. The victims were travelling in a police jeep on the Anantnag-Achabal road when the incident occurred. Police have identified LeT’s Anantnag district commander Bashir Ahmad Wani as the brains behind the attack.
The authorities have announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh to anybody providing information on Wani and the other militants.