3 civilians die in security forces firing near encounter site in Kashmir, militant also killed
An army official said acting on specific tip-off about presence of militants, police, army and paramilitary personnel laid siege around Durbugh area of Chadoora in Budgam district at around 5.30 am.
SRINAGAR: Three civilians were killed and over a dozen injured in security forces firing on protestors near an encounter site in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Tuesday. A militant was also killed in the gunfight.
An army official said acting on specific information about presence of militants, police, army and paramilitary personnel laid siege around Durbugh area of Chadoora in Budgam district at around 5.30 am.
He said they had information that one or two militants were hiding in a house in the area. “When the security men zeroed-in on the house, they came under fire from militants. The fire was returned by the troops triggering an encounter”.
As the encounter started, people of the area took to roads and tried to march towards the encounter site to allow militants a chance to escape from the besieged area.
Chanting pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans, the protestors clashed with the security personnel, who fired dozens of tear smoke shells. As the clashes intensified, the security men fired on the protestors.
At least 22 people sustained injuries in the security forces firing. 17 of the injured were shifted to SMHS hospital, Srinagar where three of the critically injured youth succumbed to injuries.
The deceased were identified as 21-year-old Zahid Rashid Bhat, Saqib Ahmad, 20, and Ishfaq Ahmad, 24.
According to doctors, the deceased had firearm injuries.
After the civilian killings, people of Durbugh and adjoining areas in Chadoora took to roads and staged massive protest demonstration. Chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, the protestors pelted stones on the security men, who fired tear smoke shells to disperse them.
The clashes continued till late evening.
Defence spokesman in Srinagar Colonel Rajesh Kalia said a militant was killed during the encounter.
“A weapon has been recovered from the encounter site,” he said.
The slain militant was identified as Tauseef Ahmad Wagay resident of Kanjikulla village of Yaripora in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
The clashes also broke out at the slain militant’s native place after the news reached there that Touseef was killed in the encounter with security forces.
The protestors pelted stones on police station at Yaripora and the cops deployed inside fired tear smoke shells and resorted to aerial firing to disperse the agitating youth.
Meanwhile, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, who spearheaded over five months long agitation in Valley last year, have called for shutdown tomorrow and protests on Friday against killing of three civilians in security forces firing.
They said civilian killings at the encounter site are fallout of Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s threat.
The Army chief had warned that youth interfering in anti-militancy operations in the State would be dealt with sternly.
“Under well thought design, forces and state police is killing innocent civilians,” the separatist leaders said and warned that incase killings are not stopped, they will call people to resist the killing spree.
They said the State administration and Government of India was gagging genuine voices through barrel of gun and pushing people to the wall.
“The men involved in these killings are neither tried for their crimes nor till now even a single official was punished or brought to book,” the separatist leaders said and demanded an impartial probe into the civilian killings.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti expressed deep anguish over death of youth at Chadoora saying it is highly painful to see the young boys losing their lives.
She said violence has given people innumerable miseries and it is high time that peaceful means are given a chance for the resolution of the issues. “The solution to problems can be found only through political means and not through violence.”
The opposition parties including National Conference and Congress have slammed the PDP-BJP government on the civilian killings.
“Time has come to understand that the political issue in Kashmir cannot be addressed through rhetoric, operational measures or development. There is no alternative to talks. You have to talk to the people of Kashmir and the stakeholders of all shades of opinion with an honest intent to resolve the political issue”, NC president Farooq Abdullah said.