Srinagar: A day after Jammu and Kashmir government withdrew 744 cases against 4,327 people for stone-pelting and anti-India protests in Kashmir, government forces faced fresh trouble as a large number of youth disrupted an anti-militancy operation at Futlipora area of Pakherpora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
At least 150 youth were involved in the incident and one received bullet wounds. Police said that action will be initiated against the stone-pelters and a case will be registered.
In the Budgam encounter, which started in the wee hours of Thursday, four Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants were killed. The encounter was started after a tip-off was received that militants were holed up in a house. After that, Army’s 10 Garwhal and Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel were pressed into service. The fire fight lasted for over seven hours. Both at the encounter site at Phutlipora and few kilometres away at Pakherpora, protesters took to the streets.
As the news spread, youth from neighbouring areas tried to march towards the encounter site, but were stopped from doing so by the forces. The stone-pelting was fierce between 9 and 10 am. A police official said that while over 50 youth protested near Phutlipora encounter, over 100 did so a few kilometres away at Pakherpora.
A police official identified the youth who received bullet wounds as 16-year-old Sayar Ahmad. A police official said Ahmad was shot in the face and was later shifted to a sub district hospital at Charar-i-Sharief, from where he was moved to Srinagar after his condition deteriorated.
Ghulam Hassan Bhat, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir range, said: “It was due to the timely action by the forces that the encounter couldn’t be disrupted. The youth who was injured was part of the protests. His condition is stable.’’
Bhat said that the stone-pelting was a routine “affair’’ witnessed at encounter sites. “We managed to control the stone-pelting after some time. We will register an FIR against the youth."
On Wednesday, Mehbooba said that the withdrawal of cases was “a major decision of far-reaching impact.’’ It came on the recommendations of Government of India’s Kashmir interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, after his first visit to the state. Sharma had sought that the cases should be withdrawn against first time stone-pelters.
Although dubbed as a confidence building measure by the chief minister, the fresh encounters and youth pouring onto the streets to support militants has only compounded the worries of the PDP-BJP government. A government official said that the cases against youth were withdrawn after a report was submitted by a high-level committee headed by SP Vaid, Director General of Police, to Mehbooba Mufti. The chief minister directed the DGP to “regularly monitor the progress in the matter and furnish a fortnightly report in this regard" the official said.
The cases were withdrawn against youth involved in protests from 2008 to 2014. When Mehbooba took over the reins after the demise of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, she began a process of withdrawing cases. Within two months, FIRs were withdrawn in 104 cases involving 634 youth.
However, after last year's protests over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani, the withdrawing of cases was halted. With regard to the cases which have been registered from 2015 until now, a report is awaited from the police.
Although government said that the “withdrawal of cases against the youth was a major demand from various sections of the society in the state who would be heaving a sigh of relief after this decision’’, government forces faced fresh trouble in the face pro-freedom protests which were witnessed at the encounter site in Budgam.
National Conference provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani said that the bullet injury to a civilian was “ unfortunate.”
"We have been always reiterating that the anti-militancy operations should be handled in a better manner and the civilian casualties should be avoided,’’ he said.
Updated Date: Nov 30, 2017 22:57 PM