Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir express anguish over civilian deaths near Kulgam encounter site
Immediately after the gunfight ended and the forces withdrew from the spot, civilians rushed to the encounter site where an explosive substance went off resulting in the death of six civilians.
SRINAGAR: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir Sunday expressed deep anguish over the death of six civilians in a blast at an encounter site in Kulgam district after a gunfight in which three militants were killed.
The officials said immediately after the gunfight ended and the forces withdrew from the spot, civilians rushed to the encounter site where an explosive substance went off resulting in the death of six civilians.
"Despite requests to not visit the spot till thorough search is done for explosives, several civilians visited the encounter site immediately after the operation. While they were there, some explosive substance went off, resulting in on the spot death of a civilian and injuries to several others," they added.
National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah expressed shock and deep anguish over the death of civilians near the encounter site in Laroo area of Kulgam in south Kashmir.
"It is heart rending to learn about such incidents which have become norm of the day. The situation calls for immediate de-escalation from all sides," Abdullah said.
Expressing anguish over the "highly unfortunate" incident, NC vice-president said little good can their words do to those who lost their loved ones.
"I pray for peace to the souls of those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery for all the injured. I pray to Almighty to give courage to the families of victims to bear the loss."
When forces left after encounter,there was a congregation which came close to the house&were trying to fiddle with remnant of explosives. It blasted&6 civilians died. We request citizens to not venture into houses which are not cleared by the security forces: SP Pani IG (Kashmir) pic.twitter.com/JjichLwYcs— ANI (@ANI) October 21, 2018
He said six civilian casualties in Kulgam "do not augment well" for peace to return back to our state.
"A whole new generation is growing in conflict and what needs to be done is to start time bound and result oriented dialogue process," he said.
Omar also took to Twitter, saying, "Terrible news coming out from Kulgam. May the deceased find place in Jannat (heaven). Alienating the people in the fight against militancy is a sure fire recipe for losing the fight. How long can we go on ignoring the ground realities & (and) living in denial about how bad things are in Kashmir?"
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed profound "grief and shock over the death of six civilians and injuries to others.
In a statement, the PDP president appealed Governor S P Malik to ensure that all standard operating procedures (SOPs) are strictly adhered to while dealing with the security situations and all the security agencies are advised to take precautions to avoid any collateral damage.
Mehbooba said she was extremely saddened by the news of the Kulgam incident, where civilians were "once again caught in the cross fire of violence, thus adding fuel to the already volatile situation."
"All words of condemnation, condolence sound very hollow at this tragedy," she said.
Conveying her heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved families, the PDP president sought immediate release of ex-gratia and other assistance in the favour of deceased civilians and aid to the injured.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga also lamented the civilian deaths and blamed the Centre's "wrong policies towards Kashmir" for the casualties.
In a statement Monga said it is painful to see innocent civilians being killed in Kashmir in such a manner.
"Two days back, a lady was killed in Pulwama district in similar circumstances. It is the arrogance of BJP Government at the Centre which is the root cause for such killings," he said in a statement.
The woman was killed on Friday night in the cross-firing between militants and security forces as the ultras attacked an Army camp in Pulwama district, police said.
The JKPCC vice-president said the BJP Government's policy "revolves around the use of bullets only".
The Congress leader expressed serious concern over the prevailing situation in Kashmir and said the initiatives taken in Kashmir during the United Progressive Alliance's 10-year rule "have been reversed and washed away by the incumbent Government".
CPI(M) leader and MLA Kulgam M Y Tarigami also expressed grief over the loss of civilian lives and demanded a probe into the incident.
"It is really so painful to see such killings happening everyday in Kashmir. But unfortunately, New Delhi is watching all this like a mute spectator and seems in no mood to address the issues politically. There is a deep sense of alienation among Kashmiris, especially youth. It is this deepening alienation and anger which is driving young and old towards the deadly encounter sites," Tarigami said in a statement.
He said given the rising toll of casualties and no visible efforts by New Delhi to hold meaningful dialogue, there is "apprehension that the situation may get more complex".
"Besides, persistent arrogance and repression is bound to aggravate the situation further," he said.
He also demanded a magisterial enquiry into the Kulgam incident.