Just when people of the Valley were preparing to break their Ramadan fast, security forces cordoned off Ganavpora village in the restive Shopian district of South Kashmir on Tuesday evening, after receiving information about the presence of two militants in the area.
Amid heavy rains, when the forces tried to carry out a search operation in the area, hundreds of people from several adjoining villages rushed to Ganavpora and started protesting. As tensions grew, protesters started pelting stones, after which the forces were forced to retaliate.
In the ensuing battle, forces opened fire and one of the bullets hit Adil Farooq Magrey, a Class X student, in his abdomen. He was declared brought dead by doctors at the Shopian district hospital.
"He was hit by a bullet in his abdomen and had died before reaching the hospital. We asked the staff to return to duty as there were reports of more injuries," a doctor at Shopian hospital told Firstpost over the phone.
The forces withdrew from the area after residents helped both the holed up militants escape.
"These people (forces) did not allow us to break the fast," said Abdul Rahim Wagey, a resident of Ganavpora village. "It irked the villagers. Then someone called other villagers and people assembled and threw stones at the forces. The forces fired pellets, tear gas and bullets."
The boy, who was reportedly participating in the protests, was killed. At least seven people were injured but only one of them was rushed to Shopian hospital, where he was declared brought dead. At the time of writing this story, his corpse still lay inside the hospital.
In recent months, it has become increasingly difficult for the security forces to carry out cordon and search operations as locals in the volatile South Kashmir throng any possible site of an encounter and clash with them.
Recently, when forces cordoned off a village in Tral, where Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Bhat was killed, hundreds of people had tried to storm the encounter site but were stopped by the forces much ahead of the site of the gun battle. Four civilians suffered bullet injuries during that encounter, in which two militants were killed.
Early this year, on 28 March, three civilians were killed in Budgam when security forces opened fire on a crowd of protestors, allegedly throwing stones at troops. The protesters were trying to help a holed-up militant escape from the besieged area.
Jammu & Kashmir director general of police, SP Vaid, tried to appeal to the youth to not pay heed to messages on social media, urging them not to come to encounter sites, but it has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
In the recent months, crowds, comprising of women and children, have thronged the encounter sites with more frequency and numbers, leaving security forces with limited options but to withdraw from the areas most of the times as the situation spirals out of control.
The killing of three people in Budgam was followed by the killing of 15-year-old Amir Nazir on 10 March in Pulwama. Police had said he was a part of a stone-pelting mob and was hit by a bullet in the neck.
In most parts of the Valley, the police impose Section 144 to prevent people from coming near the encounter sites. Nasir Ahmad Naqash, district magistrate Baramulla in North Kashmir, which has remained relatively calm in recent months, imposed Section 144 of the CrPC within a radius of three kilometres for 60 days at any counter-insurgency operation site, falling within the jurisdiction of the district.
This practice was earlier followed in every district in South Kashmir but to no avail, bringing the civilian population directly in the line of fire. "When they realised that the militants had escaped, they killed this boy in retaliation. This is how they treat protesters," a resident of Ganavpora village said.
Updated Date: Jun 07, 2017 11:15 AM