7 civilians among 11 killed in Kashmir after encounter, protests, situation tense

December 15, 2018

Seven civilians were killed and 21 injured when protestors tried to disrupt an anti-militancy operation by security forces in Sirnoo village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday, triggering tension in the region.

Army officials said three militants, including an army deserter, and a soldier were also killed in the operation. Their identities are yet to be ascertained.

A police spokesman said that during a search operation based on a credible input about the presence of militants in Sirnoo, hiding militants fired indiscriminately leading to an encounter in which an army personnel got injured and another succumbed to his injury.

“As the operation was going on, a crowd who came dangerously close from different parts to the encounter site got injured.The injured were evacuated to hospital where unfortunately seven persons succumbed to their injuries,’ he said.

The deaths triggered series of protests in Pulwama district with protestors blocking roads at several places. Internet was suspended in central and south Kashmir as authorities fear the protests could spill into other areas.

Among the killed civilians was Touseef, 27, who is survived by five sisters and two young children.

“Touseef had suffered injuries in the stomach and was shifted to Srinagar, however, he succumbed to his injures before he reached hospital. He had left his house in the morning and got killed near the village where operation was underway,’’ said Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Uricharsoo and neighbour of Touseef.

“What will happen to this family now. For them he was only source of income,’’ Ahmed asked.

The other civilians killed have been identified as Shahbaz Ali of Monghama village, Suhail Ahmad of Bellow, Liyaqat Ahmad of Parigam, Amir Ahmad Palla of Ashminder and Abid Hussain Lone of Kareemabad. Lone is survived by an Indonesian wife and their three-month-old baby. While pursuing a MBA, in Indonesia, he had married there and had returned to his village along with his wife recently.

Police and army had launched an operation in Sirnoo village, five kilometres from Pulwama town, early on Saturday.

The militants, sources said, were hiding in a hideout inside an orchard which is in an open area encircled by other orchards and villages. As the operation was underway, locals started heading towards the encounter site and pelted stones on the army and forces in retaliation opened fire which resulted into killing of one civilian and 26 were injured. Later six others succumbed to their injuries in the hospital.

A senior doctor in Pulwama district hospital where injured were brought by the locals said that most of the people had bullet and pellet injuries. “We referred many injured to Srinagar hospitals.’’

Locals blamed army and police for opening the fire near the encounter site. “The army opened fire when locals pelted stones on their vehicles while the operation was nearing to an end. The locals were angry after forces killed the militants and were leaving the encounter spot. The soldiers could have avoided these killings,’’ said an injured civilian being treated in a Srinagar hospital.

Bodies of all the killed civilians were handed over to their family members and buried at their native villages amid protests.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the killings a massacre and asked people to observe mourning and protests for three days. “From today onwards, there will be mourning and a complete strike will be observed all across Kashmir for three days. It is a massacre.. the government of India who controls us has decided to kill Kashmiris through its armed forces. People will march towards Badami Bagh Army cantonment on Monday to ask government of India to kill all of us at one time rather than killing us daily.’’

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah termed it a badly-executed encounter. ‘’7 dead. There is no explanation for this excessive use of force, none what so ever. This is a massacre & that’s the only way to describe it.,’ said the former chief minister.

Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti said that “no country could win a war by killing its own people”. “I strongly condemn these killings, and once again appeal for efforts , to stop this blood bath,’’ she said in a tweet.

Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Lone, who is an ally of the BJP, said that action should be taken against officials responsible. ‘’The preparedness of security forces would in the Pulwama context be the ability to make the distinction between combatants and non combatants. If u end up killing 7 civilians in order to kill 3 militants. It is time for heads to roll. We can’t afford a state of impunity,’’ Lone tweeted.

Source : Hindustan Times 

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