The 16-hour-long gunfight between security forces and militants has left three people, including a Special Operations Group policeman, dead in south Kashmir’s Hayen village of Tral area in Pulwama district. Three security personnel, including an Army major, were also injured in the overnight encounter.
The gunfight started on Saturday evening and was going on until Sunday morning. The bodies of two militants, who were killed in the encounter, have still not been identified. The mopping operation is on.
As soon as the columns of special forces started moving towards the Hayen village, where the militants were trapped, the area witnessed massive clashes between forces and protesters, who wanted to engage forces to provide safe passage to militants in order to save them from being killed.
Video footage circulated on social media showed dozens of people, including women, throwing stones and bamboo sticks at a police vehicle, few hundred metres from the encounter site.
Earlier, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander who is a close associate of Burhan Muzafar Wani, was believed to be among the militants trapped in the besieged house.
“I know two top militants namely Aquib and Usama have been killed. A police constable Manzoor Ahmad was also martyred and a major and three soldiers were injured. Rest I don’t know who else was present in the house,” SP Vaid, Director General of Police, told Firstpost.
The encounter lasted for a few hours before dusk and throughout the night, intermittent firing was heard by villagers as the police and paramilitary forces were deployed throughout the area to prevent people from coming out of their houses.
“The firing was going on throughout the night and it only stopped in the middle of the night before resuming in morning. Every nook and cranny of Tral was filled with forces,” Rayees Ahmad, a resident of the area, told Firstpost.
In the night-long encounter, Major Rishi of 42 RR got a head injury. A policeman Gulzar Ahmed (SoG) and a CRPF personnel also received bullet injury.
Aqib Moulvi went to religious seminary before becoming a militant and was associated with Hizbul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who was killed in July. Wani's death had brought Kashmir to an edge and close to hundred people were killed in the five-month long unrest that saw the state government clamping the worst crackdown in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. The other militant killed has been identified as Usama. He is said to be from Pakistan.
Reports had earlier said that special forces of the Indian Army were deployed to carry out a combing operation in the area. A senior government officer said that though the encounter sites are supposed to have Section 144 imposed, they had imposed curfew restrictions around the town to prevent people from getting closer to the spot.
But despite that, hundreds of people fought with forces to try giving safe passage to militants.
“People were hardly deterred by the presence of huge forces and threw stones at them wherever they could to prevent them from reaching the encounter spot,” Imtiyaz Shalla, a resident of Hayen village said. A rifle was also snatched from forces personnel near the site.
The forces earlier brought down one portion of the house by blowing it up, where the militants were believed to be trapped. Protests broke out in many parts after the news of militant killings spread. But the police has been on alert to prevent them from flaring up.
Updated Date: Mar 05, 2017 18:53 PM