SRINAGAR: A teenage girl was among three civilians killed in Army firing at stone-pelters soon after security forces launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam district on Saturday.
Governor NN Vohra summoned Army’s Northern command head Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh for a high-level security review meeting in Srinagar to discuss the situation.
In the Saturday’s incident, Army personnel rushed to Hawoora and Khudwani area in Kulgam district after receiving inputs about the presence of militants. Army men laying siege around the village came under stone pelting from a group of youths. In response, jawans fired at the crowd, resulting in injuries to eight people.
The injured people were taken to a nearby hospital, where Andleeb Jan, 13, Shakir Ahmad Khanday, 22, and Arshad Ahmad, 20, succumbed to their injuries.
“An Area Domination Patrol was chased by a crowd of 400-500 people which kept building up and coming dangerously close. Troops cautioned the stone pelters, who threw petrol bombs and stones. At one point, some unidentified militants also fired at the column. This resulted in some army men receiving grievous injuries. In response, controlled firing was resorted to by the Army which resulted in unfortunate loss of human lives," Defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.
He added that the matter was being investigated to ascertain facts on ground.
Men, women and children came out to the roads and demanded stringent action against the soldiers involved in the civilian deaths. Later, thousands of people attended the funeral prayers of the trio. The bodies were buried amidst chanting of pro-freedom, anti-India and anti-Army slogans. There were reports that some militants joined the funeral prayers and fired some rounds in air.
Soon, authorities rushed more security forces to the area. Mobile internet service in entire south Kashmir was blocked, and it was extended to central Kashmir including Srinagar.
Meanwhile, Vohra expressed anguish on the killings and stressed on strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage during anti-militancy operations. Mainstream and separatist leaders denounced the civilian killings at Kulgam. The separatist leaders have called for a shutdown in the Kashmir Valley.