Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants of Pakistan origin were killed in a gunfight in Ahmad Nagar on the Srinagar outskirts on Monday after a 22-hour long encounter. The militants were holed in the house of Abdul Majeed Rangraiz, a former State Road Transport Corporation employee, who narrated the incident to Adil Lateef.
Abdul Majeed Rangraiz speaks:
I including my wife and my daughter were sitting inside our house in Ahmad Nagar on Sunday evening when a noise outside disturbed us. I rushed outside and suddenly two young men wearing pheran – traditional Kashmir closed-cloak – jumped the wall in the backyard. I was frightened initially but mustered courage somehow to ask them who they were. The duo lifted their cloaks and took out their guns.
They went inside and told us to keep quiet. The forces had cordoned off our house. Initially they told us that we will go but as the time passed they didn’t. I told them that why aren’t you people leaving? They replied they can’t. They then took positions and started to fire. At around 8:30 pm, one militant offered Salah (prayers) and other was firing. We were asking them to let us go but they didn’t allow us. At around 10:00 pm, my daughter went inside bathroom and closed the door. From a window of bathroom she managed to jump and went into our neighbor’s house. At first, we were not aware that she has left. We knocked the door of the bathroom but there wasn’t any response. I and my wife panicked. She started to cry and I consoled her. I told her that she is Allah’s trust and we all have to return to him. After some time, I came to know that she has left this house and has been caught by police but was safe. Now, I and my wife were left in the house. There was lull in firing from mid-night. We hid in a corner. The night passed. It was darkest night of my life.
Next morning at around 7:00 am, the exchange of fire resumed between militants and forces. The militants wanted to talk over phone with police. We didn’t have cellular phone with us. They sent my wife to get a mobile phone. But, the militants, shouted at forces to not open fire at her. The firing stopped and she went out to take the mobile phone. The forces personal tried to detain her and take her into vehicle but a top police officer of the district stopped them from doing so. She didn’t come back into the house, though. When she didn’t come, the militants asked: ‘Where is mummy?’
I was somehow relieved. My daughter and my wife were out of the house. They were curious to talk to police. Now, I was the only option for them to bring a cellular phone. There was conversation between a top police officer and militants. The militants finally sent me, but, they insisted: “You will come back.” Finally I went outside and brought a phone. They told the top police officer to call on it from his side and he called.
One of the militants Abu Huzaifa Sindhi told the officer: ‘We want to talk to two elderly persons of the area.’ While referring to me he told the militant that one person (I) is already present and said no one else is ready to come. But militants declined to talk to me and insisted that we want two persons of the area.
The police officer asked them to surrender. But Sindhi replied: ‘We are not here to surrender. Don’t ever think of surrender.’ There were few heated arguments between them and during conversation, Sindhi mocked at the officer and also spoke in English. “I earn more than your salary.” The conversation reached an impasse.
I brought Quran in frustration and told militants what do I have to do? They melted and decided to let me go. But before I left, they apologized for what had happened since the beginning of the encounter. They recited Quran including Surah Yaseen and Surah Rehman, gave me blessings and said goodbye. They profusely apologized and they said ‘It is time to go.’
Finally, the militants let me go and before that they told the top police officer over phone: “Don’t harm him. If you tried to harm him we will come out in the open.” Moment later intense gunfire started.
Huzaifa Sindhi had told me that he would get killed on the slab of first story – which is covered with steel sheets – and Chota Hafeez said he would get killed in the kitchen room of the house. And this is what happened. Their bodies were recovered from the same places – where they had predicted their end.
May Allah bless them with Jannah!
(Rangraiz’s house was gutted in the gunfight)