Pulwama encounter: Separatists had called for protest march to Badamibagh Cantonment during 2016 unrest too

The march called by separatists on Monday to the army's Chinar Corps headquarters in Srinagar against the killing of seven civilians during an encounter was foiled after authorities imposed restrictions in Pulwama district and parts of Srinagar. The separatists, under the banner of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Mohammad Yasin Malik, had on Saturday asked the people to march to the corps' headquarters in Badamibagh on the outskirts of Srinagar.

The call for the march came after seven civilians died and several others were injured allegedly when security forces opened fire at a mob that thronged the site of an encounter in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. Three terrorists and a soldier were killed in the encounter on Saturday.

File photo of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Reuters

File photo of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Reuters

However, on Monday, several precautionary measures were put in place by the state police and administration. Roads leading to the Badamibagh Cantonment, as the camp is popularly referred to, were sealed off and mobile and internet services were suspended on Monday.

The Army has also advised people not to pay heed to the "misleading call" by the JRL. "The Army is always with the people of Kashmir and will foil all such evil attempts of the terrorist-separatist-Pakistan nexus to pit the civilian population against the security forces. The public is once again advised not to pay heed to this misleading call by JRL,” an army spokesman said on Sunday.

Security forces make every attempt to avoid any loss of civilian lives in cross-fire and minimise collateral damage to property, he said. "Loss of any civilian life is always painful for the security forces. However, the vested interests are continuously at work to instigate and mobilise gullible youths to encounter sites. The call given by JRL for march to Badamibagh Cantonment is another such attempt. The Indian Army strongly condemns this call by Pakistan proxies and advises people not to fall prey to such designs of anti-national forces,” the spokesman said.

Significance of Badamibagh Cantonment

A similar march had been called by separatist leaders during the unrest of 2016. They had called for a march to the Badamibagh cantonment, or Chinar Corps headquarters. Authorities had undertaken similar measures to prevent the agitation from taking place. Shops, fuel stations, and other business establishments had been shut in the city.

One of the 62 cantonments in the country, the Badamibagh cantonment is the only one in the Northern Command, according to the official website. In October 2018, the Army celebrated the 72nd Infrantry Day at the cantonment in Srinagar.

The Tribune had quoted the General Officer Commanding (GOC) as saying, "We are celebrating Infantry Day at a place which has a historic significance. It is here that the Indian Army began its campaign to evict Pakistani invaders and succeeded in doing so with glory. We are all grateful to our valiant martyrs, heroes and soldiers."

Calling for the march, separatist leaders had said in a statement, "As the Government of India is only interested in our territory and forcibly holds on to it while systematically eliminating the people, it is better that they finish us off at once and that is why the leadership has asked the Centre to do that as we march towards their army headquarters in Badami Bagh on Monday. Or else stop the killings and massacres and resolve the dispute and save human lives."

However, Economic Times said quoted Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh as saying that the police has registered an FIR regarding the civilian killings.

The official statement of the state police said, "While 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 the hospital where unfortunately seven persons succumbed to their injuries. Others who were admitted in the hospital are stated to be stable."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2018 22:56:46 IST

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