Seven civilians were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, following protests and clashes during an encounter in the area. The army managed to kill three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, including one Zahoor Thokar, an ex-Indian Army personnel who joined militancy last year. Meanwhile, one army jawan had also been killed in the encounter.
According to sources, more than 70 people have been injured in clashes following the encounter, many among them critical with bullet wounds. This is the highest number of civilians casualties near an encounter site in 2018.
Six of the seven youths killed in the clashes were identified as Shahbaz Ali, a resident of Monghama village, Suhail Ahmad of Bellow, Liyaqat Ahmad from Parigam, Murtaza of Prichoo, Amir Ahmad Palla of Ashminder and Abid Hussain Lone of Kareemabad.
The seventh, a youth from Pulwama, was identified as Touseef Ahmad Mir. Touseef was injured in forces action in Sirnoo and was taken to the district hospital in Pulwama, from where from he was referred to SMHS Srinagar. He succumbed to his injuries there.
According to reports, one of the seven civilians killed in the clashes is survived by an Indonesian wife and a three-month-old baby. Abid Hussain Lone of Karimabad village completed his MBA from Indonesia, and had returned home last year with his wife, Greater Kashmir reported.
As the situation remained tense in Jammu and Kashmir after the civilian killings, separatist conglomerate Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) called for protests towards the Srinagar headquarters of the Army. It also asked people to observe shutdown for three days.
Student protests erupted at Kashmir University (KU) against the killings. Scores of students after boycotting their classes assembled on the varsity campus and staged a demonstration against the “bloodbath” in Pulwama, local sources reported.
Government forces were deployed in heavy strength in Pulwama to prevent further protests. Parts of the district where the encounter took place remained shut, while thousands of people marched to take part in the funeral of slain militant Zahoor Thoker.
According to a report from The Associated Press, locals accused troops of directly spraying gunfire into the crowds. “They (Indian troops) fired at us as if they were practising their guns,” the news agency quoted Shabir Ahmed, a local resident who accompanied some injured taken to a hospital in Srinagar, as saying.
The security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in the village in the district after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area, a police official said. He said as the forces were conducting searches, when the militants opened fire on them.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned the manner in which security forces were conducting the encounters and asked why was the army not better prepared to handle the mob.
Abdullah said, "Six civilians killed and numerous more injured, many critically. Any way you look at it this was a badly executed encounter. Protests around encounter sites are now the norm, not the exception. Why are we unable to learn how to handle them better?"
He added, "Another blood-soaked weekend in Kashmir. 6 protestors killed, 1 soldier killed in the line of duty. Together with the 3 militants from this morning’s encounter that’s 10 dead. Reports of many injured at the encounter site. What a horrible day!"
Criticising Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik's administration, Abdullah said, "The administration of Governor Malik has one task and one task only — to focus on the security of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and restore peace to a troubled valley. Sadly it appears that’s the only thing the administration is not doing. Publicity campaigns and full page ads don’t bring peace."
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2018 16:44:35 IST