Mannan Wani
Mannan Bashir Wani, a PhD scholar at Aligarh Muslim University who joined Hizbul Mujahideen in January, 2018.Facebook

Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including a PhD scholar of Aligarh Muslim University, were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district on Thursday.

Police officials said that at least three militants were trapped inside a house in the Shatgund Balla area of Handwara. After a tip-off, a joint operation was launched by the Army 30 RR and the Special Operation Group on Thursday morning.

The police officials had earlier said that one of the trapped militants was Manan Wani and later identified him as the one who was killed. Sources said that the militants were also asked to surrender before the police, which they denied.

The area was later cordoned off by the security forces whereas all the educational institutions and other offices were ordered shut.

The killing of militants come at a time when the civic polls are underway in the state and the Hizbul Mujahideen has issued warnings to the contestants as well as the voters.

Wani had joined militant ranks early this year and was known for various letters that he penned down reasoning why he took up arms. He was said to be inspired by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who was killed in 2016.

Who is Manan Wani?

Wani was a PhD Scholar studying Applied Geology at AMU. In a letter, Wani had stated how young educated Kashmiris, who have little or no sources of income, are now resorting to joining militancy to raise their voice against the government. It also claimed that the trust deficit between Kashmiris and the government is fading especially since New Delhi is not ready to listen to a counter-point of view.

Mannan also wrote that he didn't join militancy to die, but for him living a life of freedom is important and for that, he chose the path of resistance.

The 25-year-old hailed from a small hamlet, Takipora, in Kupwara district. He was described as a bright student who went on to study Masters and MPhil in Geology and later on a doctorate in Applied Geology at the Aligarh Muslim University.

He had also reportedly received the best research paper award during an international conference on 'Water Environment, Ecology and Society' in 2016. He was felicitated for his research on flood risk assessment of Lolab valley using remote sensing and GIS techniques.

Wani was described by his friends at AMU as one whose interest lies heavily in student politics and Islamic revivalist movement.

However, on January 7, a picture of Wani holding an AK 47 rifle went viral on social media with a statement from the militant outfit. The pictures shocked many, including his family, who reportedly said that it never occurred to them that Wani will join militancy.

Wani's parents had made emotional appeals through media and urged him to return home, but he did not listen.

After some months, Wani wrote a detailed letter reasoning why he joined militant ranks. The authenticity the letter is being verified by J&K Police.