They posed with guns and tried sending out a message to the people of Kashmir. The gang of 11 led by Burhan Wani posted an image of them posing with rifles and the same had gone viral.
There were 11 persons including Wani who were part of the photograph. The photograph had, in fact, made it easier for the security forces to identify the entire gang and take them down one by one.
It began with the killing of Wani himself in July 2016. Over the next two years, each one of them was hunted down and killed. However, Tariq dodged the bullet as he surrendered. While the rest of them were killed, there was only one surviving member of this gang until Sunday.
Salim Padder managed to dodge the security forces the longest. He was leading a small team of 5 Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists including Mohammad Rafi Bhat, a professor turned terrorist. The Indian Army while working on specific inputs tracked the hideout of these terrorists and killed all of them.
Padder, sources say was trying to re-build the outfit. The Hizbul has faced several losses in the past couple of years and Padder was tasked with re-building the outfit. The source added that he was a wily terrorist and had managed to give the agencies the slip for long.
An officer with the IB had said in October 2017 that it was just a matter of time before they get to Padder. The Forces have successfully wiped out 9 members of the gang and ensured the surrender of one. Padder cannot hide for too long and he will be rounded up soon, the officer also said.
When Wani posted the picture on the social media, it went extremely viral. In fact, it managed to sway the mood of several youngsters in Kashmir which took up arms. However, the picture also helped the security forces identify the danger elements following which they were taken down one by one.
While Sunday's encounter officially marked the end of the Burhan Wani gang, it also witnessed the death of a professor turned terrorist. It may be recalled that Bhat had suddenly gone missing on Friday, leaving his parents and friends worried. As efforts were underway to trace him, the security agencies picked up an alert about the presence of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists at a private home in Badigam, Shopian.
The Forces then launched a cordon and search operation following which the 5 terrorists were gunned down. During the encounter, Bhat made a call to his father and sought his forgiveness. "Please forgive me if I have hurt you," he said.
Bhat, a resident of Chundhama village in the central district of Ganderbal, had completed his PhD programme on whole time basis at the Department of Sociology of Kashmir University, Srinagar in November 2017. He completed his thesis titled 'Globalization and emerging trends in consumerism: A comparative study in urban and rural Kashmir' under the supervision of assistant professor Dr Mohmad Saleem Jahangir.
"Sadly this is also an answer to those who claim jobs & development are the solution to the violence & alienation in Kashmir. This is another tragic development in a steady stream of tragedies in Kashmir," former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah said.