SRINAGAR: Indian occupation forces on Thursday martyred a Kashmiri freedom fighter who became a folk hero in the occupied territory after giving up geology research at an Indian university to take up arms, officials said.
Manan Wani, 26, and an associate were martyred in a fierce gunfight that lasted more than 10 hours after Indian occupation forces were tipped off that he was hiding in a residential area, officials told AFP on the condition of anonymity.
“Wani’s family has identified the body and now legal formalities are underway,” one police officer said.
Another police officer said that Wani and his associate escaped the first siege but became trapped in a village in the northern area of Handwara.
Wani quit a PhD programme at Aligarh University in January to join Hizbul Mujahideen.
He rose to prominence after circulating two open letters in the Indian media explaining why he took up arms.
“We are soldiers we do not fight to die, but to win, we do not feel dignity in death but we do feel dignity in fighting (Indian) – occupation, its military might, its oppression, its tyranny, its collaborators and most of all its ego,” Manan Wani wrote in his first letter in July.
The scholar-turned-freedom fighter died not far from his home in Kupwara.
The martyrdom of another popular Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani — no relation— by Indian occupation forces in July 2016 sparked fierce protests in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) that left more than 100 dead.
Hurriyat leaders called for a general strike on Friday over Wani’s killing.
“Deeply pained that we lost a budding intellectual and writer like him, fighting for the cause of self-determination,” chief of his own faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in a tweet
The APHC also called for a complete shutdown “to pay homage” to Wani.