Pulwama encounter: 15-year-old's death stark reminder of dark days ahead in Kashmir

It was widely feared but this is the new reality in Kashmir. After Army Chief Bipin Rawat warned protesters against disrupting anti-militant operation, the killing of a 15-year-old boy during clashes at an encounter site is a stark reminder of what the valley is going to witness in the coming days.

The clashes, between security forces and protesters, who obviously wanted to help militants escape left Aamir Wani, a resident of Begumbagh village of Pulwama district, dead and two more injured. The security forces fired at the mob marching towards the encounter site in Padgampora village, a militancy dominant area in south of Kashmir.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

This is the first killing of a civilian protester, after the Army chief’s warning to protesters, who flock the encounter sites to try to obstruct the operations and prevent the army from carrying out anti-militancy operations.

General Rawat, last month, had warned people against obstructing live encounters. "Those who obstruct our operations during the encounters and are not supportive will be treated as overground workers of terrorists,” he said.

Rawat's words received sharp criticism from all quarters including mainstream politicians as well Hurriyat leaders. They said General Rawat's words were a “direct intimidation.”

Firstpost had earlier argued that forces are likely to fire more ruthlessly at the unruly mob after the General’s statement and it was likely to lead to a massacre every month.

On Thursday, Inspector General of police SJM Gilani and Block Medical Officer, Pampore, Dr Saba, confirmed the teenager's death but police said he was killed by a “stray bullet”.

In the encounter, one Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, Jehangir Ganai, was also killed in the encounter by the forces. The family of the militant was called to persuade him to surrender. Public Addressing System was used to reach out to the trapped militant, according to the police. However, he refused to give up and engaged in a gunfight with forces.

Despite Army Chief's warning, people continued to obstruct live encounters by clashing with forces by pelting stones to help the militants escape. At least, on two occasions, the troops were forced to abandon anti-militant operations midway after facing stiff resistance from the local population.

When an encounter starts these days in the valley, hundreds of people throng the site of the gun-battle to engage the forces in stone-pelting. It is a plan to deflect the attention of forces from the encounter to give enough room to militants to flee from the scene by diverting the energies of the armed forces.

In February 2016, two civilians, Shaista Hameed and Danish Farooq, were killed and 16 injured when the forces opened fire on protesters close to the encounter site in Kakapore in Pulwama.

Two more civilians, Adil Reshi and Mushtaq Ahmed Itoo, were also killed in forces' firing last month in Nagbal Frisal village of Kulgam.

Heavy clashes were going on between protesters and forces when the news of the death spread. Many people have been injured during these clashes. All of them were shifted to a nearby medical facility.

The body of the slain teenager reached his ancestral village when the last reports came in. The situation is said to be tense in the entire area.

Updated Date: Mar 09, 2017 16:41 PM

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