Two militants, including scholar-turned- militant Manan Bashir Wani, were shot dead during an encounter between terrorists and security forces at Handwara in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Thursday morning.

Wani, 27, was a PhD scholar at Aligarh Muslim University before he joined the militant ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen in January, 2018.People’s Democratic leader and former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti called Wani’s death a loss. She urged all political parties to facilitate a solution to end the bloodshed through dialogue with all the stake holders, including neighbouring Pakistan.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman, All Parties Hurriyat Conference called for a complete shutdown on Friday to observe Wani’s “martydom”.

Another Hizbul Mujahideen militant, yet to be identified, was killed by security forces.

The encounter broke out in the early hours of Thursday at Shartgund Bala village in Handwara following a specific intelligence about presence of Wani, along with two others, officials said.

The exchange of fire continued till 11 am with a lull at around 9 am, when the police initiated search operations at the encounter site. However, search operations were suspended within 15 minutes of starting as militants resumed firing.

The police have recovered arms and ammunitions of the slain militants.

Army commander Lt General AK Bhat said, “The militant groups will try harder to infiltrate in next two months.”