SRINAGAR: Tension has gripped Kashmir after two persons including a 22-year-girl were killed and a dozen others injured when security forces allegedly opened fire on protestors in Pulwama district in South Kashmir on Sunday following an encounter in which a local militant was killed.
The separatists have called for Kashmir bandh on Monday while Mehbooba Mufti, who is tipped to take over as Chief Minister of the State, has asked security forces to maintain restraint while dealing with civilians.
The residents of Lelhara village in Kakapora, Pulwama, mostly youth, took to roads this afternoon to protest killing of a local militant in a gunfight in the Kakapora area.
The locals staged protest demonstration while the security forces operation against the militants was going on.
Chanting pro-freedom and pro-Islamic slogans, the protestors clashed with the security men.
Police sources said the protestors pelted stones and bricks towards the security forces personnel, who fired tear smoke shells, pellets and live ammunition to disperse the protestors.
In the security forces firing two persons including a girl were killed and a dozen others injured, who have been referred to different hospitals.
The deceased were identified as 19-year-old Danish Farooq Mir, an engineering student, and 22-year-old girl Shaista Hameed, who was pursuing post graduation through distance education mode.
According to locals, Danish was hit by a bullet in the neck while Shaista, who was in the verandah of her house, sustained bullet injuries in head and neck. “Danish and Shaista alongwith dozen other injured were shifted to a nearby hospital. However, doctors in the hospital declared both Danish and Shaista dead”.
“The security force personnel deliberately fired live ammunition on the crowd. They could have resorted only to tear gas shelling and lathi charge,” the local residents said.
The doctors have termed condition of another injured as “life threatening”.
Earlier, a local militant Adil Ahmad Wagay was killed in a gunfight with security forces. Police sources said two of his accomplices managed to escape from the area.
As the news about the killing of two civilians in security forces firing spread, people in the entire Kakapora area in Pulwama came out on roads and staged protest demonstrations.
Tension also gripped Srinagar and other parts of the Valley. More security personnel were deployed in the sensitive areas to maintain law and order.
A police officer said the youth (Danish) died during clashes while the girl Shaista was hit by a bullet during a cross fire.
He said a case has been registered and investigation taken up.
Reacting to the civilian killings, top Kashmiri separatist leaders – Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Shabir Ahmad Shah – have called for Kashmir bandh tomorrow.
The hardliner Geelani termed the killing of civilians as “the worst kind of state terrorism” in J&K.
“Indian troops present in J&K were committing crimes against humanity and unleashing terror due to the unbridled powers enjoyed by them,” said moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Pro-independence JKLF chairman said, “Trigger happy Indian soldiers without any fear of penalization keep killing our kith and kin and international community, civil society and human rights organizations maintain their criminal silence over these innocent killings. What was the sin of 22 year old innocent girl Shaista Hameed and 19 year old boy Danish Farooq? Why have been they killed”.
A police official said in view of the strike called by the separatists, the government may impose restrictions in parts of Pulwama, Srinagar and other sensitive areas in the Valley tomorrow to ensure peace.
Meanwhile, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who is tipped to take over as Chief Minister of PDP-BJP government in the coming days, has condemned the killings of two civilians in the security forces firing.
Terming the incident as unfortunate and uncalled for, she said security forces must observe restrain while dealing with civilians in such a situation.