Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Thursday that the death of a PhD scholar-turned-militant in an encounter earlier in the day was “entirely our loss”.

Mannan Bashir Wani, a scholar at the Aligarh Muslim University who joined militancy in January, was among two Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed in an encounter in Shatgund Bala village of Handwara town in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Police officials recovered arms and ammunition from the two.

“Today a PhD scholar chose death over life & was killed in an encounter,” Mufti wrote on Twitter. “His death is entirely our loss as we are losing young educated boys everyday.”

She added: “It is high time that all the political parties in the country realise the gravity of this situation and try to facilitate a solution through dialogue with all the stake holders including Pakistan to end this bloodshed.”

A joint team of the Indian Army and a special operations group launched a cordon-and-search operation at 2.30 am in the area after security forces received inputs about the presence of militants there.

Meanwhile, authorities have suspended mobile internet services and closed educational institutions in the area. “All the schools and colleges in Kupwara district except [those in] Machhil, Keran and Tangdhar will remain closed today,” an unidentified official of the Kupwara district administration said.