The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said that Abu Dujana, a top commander of the Laskhar-e-Taiba in the state, was killed in an encounter in Hakripora village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Another militant also died in the gunbattle, the police said, calling it a “huge achievement” for security forces.

“The quantum of firing from the terrorists’ side was very heavy,” said Inspector General of the Jammu and Kashmir Police Munir Khan.

The gunshots broke out early on Tuesday while security forces were conducting search operations in Hakripora, acting on intelligence that there were militants hiding in the area, officials told PTI. Officers retaliated after the militants opened fire on them, they said.

The other LeT militant killed is believed to be Arif Nabi Dar, who went by the name, Arif Lelhari.

Protests break out

Soon after the encounter, protests ensued in the Valley. One civilian has died and several have been injured in the violence.Civilians and security forces clashed at the site of the gunfight in Hakripora as well as in other parts of the Valley.

Violence was reported in the districts of Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam in South Kashmir, Srinagar in Central Kashmir, and Kupwara district in the north, according to local publications.

Security forces used pump action guns and fired teargas shells to quell the agitation after protestors pelted stones at them.

One civilian, identified as Firdous Ahmed Khan, was hit by a bullet during clashes in Pulwama. The Kakapora resident succumbed to his injuries at the District Hospital.

The inspector general confirmed that the civilian had died. “Stone pelting or no pelting, disruptions or no disruptions, our operations will continue,” Munir Khan said.

Students’ protests

Meanwhile, students from Amar Singh College and Bemina Degree College in Srinagar clashed with security forces. Violence broke out at Lal Chowk in the heart of the city, as well.

Students of the Government Degree College in Kulgam also boycotted classes in protest. Others launched agitations in Kupwara’s Handwara town.

Schools and colleges have been asked to stay closed in the state. Mobile internet services have also been blocked.

Papers based in Kashmir also reported firing outside the District Hospital in Pulwama, in which at least two were injured.

Who is Abu Dujana?

Security forces had announced a Rs 15 lakh award for information on Dujana, who the Indian Army had listed as an A++ category militant. He featured in the list of most wanted militants in Kashmir, released by the Army in May. Dujana was wanted in a number of militancy-related attacks in South Kashmir.

There are few personal details known about Dujana, including his real name. He had been active in the Valley for a few years, though reports differ on exactly when he became a militant.

According to the police, Dujana is a native of Gilgit in Pakistan-occupied territory. He is believed to have taken over as divisional commander of the LeT after Abu Qasim, the Pakistani national who had earlier headed the group’s operations in Kashmir, was killed in 2015. Dujana became a well-known figure in South Kashmir and had escaped security cordons several times.

Recently, reports surfaced that Dujana had left the Lashkar, following differences with the leadership, and was to join a new group started by former Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa. On July 27, a propagnada channel of the al Qaeda had claimed that Musa was named the head of a new cell affiliated with the group in Kashmir called the Ansar Ghazwat ul-Hind.

Dujana is believed to have been behind an attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force in Pampore and another at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Pampore, just south of Srinagar.