SRINAGAR: A youth, who was part of a protest demonstration, was hit by a bullet near the site of an encounter in Arwani area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday triggering protests and clashes.
An encounter between militants and security forces erupted at Hassanpora Tabela, Arwani in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district last evening after militants hiding in a house fired on the security personnel during a search operation.
The security personnel had laid siege around the area following inputs that some militants including Lashkar-e-Toiba’s Kashmir chief and most wanted militant Abu Dujana were hiding there.
The encounter between the militants and security forces continued today also and there were unconfirmed reports that three Lashkar militants were killed in the firefight. However, there was no official confirmation about the militant killings.
As the gunfight was going on, people from adjoining areas in large numbers gathered near the encounter site. Chanting pro-freedom and anti-government slogans, the protestors attempted to enter the besieged area to help the holed-up militants to escape.
Sources said the security personnel fired warning shots to disperse the people. “However, when the people did not disperse and attempted to storm the encounter site, security personnel fired some rounds and tear gas shells towards the mob”.
Locals said in the security forces firing, a youth Arif Ahmad Shah was killed and many others injured.
The killing of youth triggered protests in the area and adjoining areas and some other parts of South Kashmir. The protestors clashed with the security personnel, who fired tear smoke shells and resorted to heavy baton charge to disperse them. The clashes continued till late evening.
A police spokesman confirmed the killing of the civilian.
“At some distance from the encounter site, a stray bullet hit the youth, Arif. He later succumbed to injuries,” he said.
Police, meanwhile, appealed people not to assemble or come close to the encounter sites as there is every chance that stray bullets may hit them and they make get injured.
Earlier, this year police had issued an advisory asking people living within two kilometres from the encounter site to stay indoors.
“In case any encounter starts anywhere, the people particularly the parents of young adults of the nearby area are requested not to allow their wards to move towards the encounter site. In case they are outside home, they should be recalled to home,” read the police advisory.
It had also asked people not to rush towards the encounter site immediately after the gunfight has stopped.